Saturday, October 25, 2014

Finding a thing called "beauty".

I have always found our desert city to be beautiful. At least as far back as I can remember recognizing and appreciating such a thing as “beauty”.

Almost every Sunday, growing up, my Dad would be driving my brother and I back to our Mother’s house. There were two common routes to choose from. Eastbound, straight down Washington Avenue from Michael Way to Pecos, or “the expressway”, 95 South from Decatur Boulevard to Eastern Avenue.

Where the freeway rounds the Meadows MalI and peaks at Valley View, I would, and still do, admire the downtown hotels juxtaposed to Frenchmans mountain. The setting sun behind us illuminating the buildings, everything just looks so crisp. I just loved it. Not just that sight but the entire valley for that matter. I love that you can see all the way across the valley on a clear day. There are incredible vantage points for these scenic views hidden all over the city.

As a teenager in this town, working construction, building the suburban neighborhoods which now surround us, I would live for the days where I would be working high on a hill with a commanding view of the city. From Paradise Hills to Horizon Ridge to Sun City and beyond. It does not get much better than looking over Las Vegas the morning after a nice rain storm.

I did not actually see the Las Vegas that others complain about until I was 26, working with a crew of L.A. and New York people for six weeks downtown. I just did not see it. I can see the sunshine and feel the crisp, dry air. I see the lawns of green grass and innumerable species of trees. My co-workers see smoke and smokers and morbidly obese people on “Rascal” scooters. They see the dead stare in the faces of video slot players. They see a town void of charm. All of the sudden, I can see them see me and I am the desert equivalent to a country bumpkin who don’t know no nothing about the cultured life in the big city. I do what I can to share the beauty that I believe my town offers to those who are ignorant of our ways. Nothing makes a dent.

This was quite a large pill to swallow.

Later that year, I began to do some travelling by myself. I drove up Nevada, over into California through Lassen National Forest, past Mount Shasta and into Oregon. My first visit to Oregon was a little overwhelming. Mostly because I did not have any person to really share it with. The intense greens, the flowing water, the air, the trees- each experience triggering the memory of a different person that I wished that I could share it with.

I knew several Oregon folks who lived in Las Vegas as well as many Las Vegans who transplanted to Oregon. What a marvelous coincidence or perhaps pattern, I thought to myself. Kids from the desert crave mountains and rain, while Northwesterners seriously dig the sunshine and arid climate.

After visiting Bend, Oregon in a vain attempt to find some long lost friends, I headed West and made it the coast just in time for sunset. The next morning I proceeded South down the coast, back into California through Eureka, past the mighty redwoods, into some wine country and across the Golden Gate Bridge. Oh my lord, cruising through San Francisco with my windows down on a Summer night with that intoxicating bay breeze cascading through my nostrils- wow. I wish I could afford to stay, but alas, my budget is being devoured by gasoline and I need to make it as far as possible every day.

I post up with my cousins in Morgan Hill and take a day off from travelling. My cousin Pam’s tuna casserole is so unbelievably good. I can’t believe how hungry I actually am. But it’s true, you spend all day driving, not really burning any calories, it’s easy to go without eating. I must have been pretty famished because this tuna casserole is like the best thing I have ever tasted- and we both know that cannot possibly be true.

This is Steinbeck country. Driving through these dusty yellow molehills reminds me of the vivid descriptions put forth in the book East of Eden (and other works from John Steinbeck). It’s really not very pretty. At least in the Summer during yet another famous California drought. Come Spring, if the winter is any good, these hills will green up and burst with wildflowers, but today it is a depressing, dusty, dry earth- the kind that our ancestors moved away from.

I know this path, I have been passenger on this journey more times than I can remember. Just 8 or so little hours and I will back in my humble desert.

It seems that the farther South you travel in California, the scarier the drivers become. By the time I reach Baker, it feels like an all out race for your life. Judging by the speed and intensity of the motorists, I believe the state just might be really falling into the ocean. Cars are passing each other on the shoulder, even.
These people are nuts.

I, on the other hand, am cautious and I allow the speed demons to race ahead. Again, it is just about sunset and the sky is painting the desert in pinks, purples and oranges. This has always been the impossible hour. You are getting so close to Las Vegas, but can’t yet see it. This is the perfect hour to arrive. The sun is almost completely out of sight, yet a solitary beam is splitting the sky and reflecting against the mirrored Strip hotels. The sky is a dimming blue and a plethora of twinkling lights are turning on. This is the moment that my city comes into view and it is positively gorgeous.

Hold on. Wait a minute.

South Point?

When I left here last week that brand new hotel was called South Coast.

Wow. That is Las Vegas for you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Vegas Valley Book Festival

Dear Friends,
It’s almost Saturday already. Are you ready?

As if the weather has not been picturesque enough these last few days,, the weather wizards are predicting an even milder afternoon with partly sunny skies (high of 82 degrees Fahrenheit).

I can hardly imagine greater weather for the 13th annual Vegas Valley Book Festival, October 16-18, 2014, Historic Fifth Street School, 401 S Fourth St.

The festival events take place at a number of locations, check the event schedule for full details.

I, however, will be sitting at table #9 in the poetry courtyard, Saturday October 18th, 2-4 pm.
Do come say “Hi!”
Speaking of my book.

Have you bought my book lately?

I just learned that You can order hardcover versions of the book, either with a dust jacket or image wrap. Yours would be very rare, as I only ever printed softcover books.
The hardcover books do cost substantially more than the softcovers, but I suppose they last longer and are “nicer”. I don’t know. If you’re interested in getting the only hardcover copies of my book (for your collection).
Order here.

Have you heard the buzz?
National resale retailer Buffalo Exchange has opened on Main Street, right here in our very own 18b Las Vegas Arts District. In case you were unaware, Buffalo Exchange buys and sells clothing, so you do not necessarily need to be in the chips to go shopping. Just dig out your old threads that don’t fit or just don’t fit your style anymore and you bring them in for cash or store credit. Be aware, however, that they only buy what they think they can sell, so their buyer may turn down your wares based on their own judgment or opinion. It would be in your best interest to stack the deck, that is, bring in more than you want to get rid of.

Presto. You have a shopping tab.

As their neon in the window proudly states: “FRESH CLOTHES DAILY”

BOOK your next appointment TODAY at Hillary Salon. (702) 525 1053.
Not an appointment for today, mind you. An appointment for next week or the week after. We do appreciate when you give us at least day in advance heads up.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It gets better.

Our first two visits to The Market were less than eventful and perhaps my initial review of the new Fremont Street shop was more than necessarily scathing- I was just calling it as I see it.

Our Sunday morning walk brought us back to The Market for a follow up, as it did not appear that they were completely ready on our first encounters. This morning we are pleasantly surprised. The limited selections of ales and ciders previously on display have been flushed out and varied. There are prices now on display where many were previously lacking, allowing the consumer to comparison shop (for value).

The coffee bar was open, serving Stumptown Coffee (although a printed sign still declared “Coming Soon”), however we are not in the mood for coffee on this particular Sunday morning, if you catch my drift.

Which leads me to our biggest surprise of the morning, much of the booze is competitively priced. I would have bet my left leg that a place such as this, not unlike a Whole Foods or similar, would have their six-packs priced above market average. Here today, we stand stunned to discover that the hopped cider we were eyeballing the other day is a mere $6.00 American. Wait no longer, throw that puppy in the bag.

We are also in need of dish soap and sponges this morning, so we meander over to that aisle and deduce a reasonable brand of organic, zero-waste, environmentally sound, almond scented dish soap and a 3 pack of equally environmentally correct sponges. $3.69 and $3.19 respectively. Not a steal but not the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination either.

On our first visit to The Market, we were 20 minutes early for the ribbon-cutting and learned from a nearby “Ranger” that the store would actually be open to the public thirty minutes after that. We decided to skip the hoopla and return the following morning, which we did.

Wouldn’t you know it, one of our friendly neighborhood friends sees us shopping, gives us a holler and we spend the next 10 or so minutes catching up and chewing the fat.

On our third visit, Sunday morning, before we can even reach the rear of the store, we see a friend and contemporary of ours taking everything in for the first time. A very similar, friendly back and forth ensues and we spend the next several minutes surveying the aisles, hashing about the store, what they have, what they don’t have, etc.,

At the end of the day, still a lot of mixed feelings. There are plenty of reasons for me to shop here from time to time. Still, so much of the store is redundant and priced far out of the realm of reasonable. Juice, for example. There seems to be some kind of organic juice on nearly every aisle. What gives?

Grab and go salads and hummus trays are there for your no-brainer, low cal lunches. Most of them are labeled Mediterranean and many feature a dish called “guacahummus”, although I could not find any dishes with falafel. I am going to go ahead and assume that “guacahummus” is precisely what it sounds like- a combination of guacamole and hummus? I am guessing that it must be pretty good because it is also mighty plentiful around the store.

Another comfortable amenity to The Market are there two, clean, unisex restrooms easily accessible for the public. Not an amazing advancement or anything but I am sure you have been to grocery stores and discovered their toilets under lock and key or hidden down some mysterious hallway. I know I have.

For whatever it’s worth, an empty bladder makes for a more comfortable and leisurely shopping experience. If only record stores could learn to adapt these practices.

So here is the jist. Our friend Josh suggests that the deli and coffee portion of the store is much more useful than the grocery half. An astute observation that I cannot exactly deny, except he does not actually live anywhere near here. My approach would be something more like, I can grab some odds and ends now when I am in this neck of the woods. It does not solve the downtown grocery epidemic, but it is really great to have something of this kind as an option, especially on this block.

Honestly, I stayed at the El Cortez a few times back in 2009 and the lack of these services nearby was very apparent. I still contend that a much more practical location could have been sought for this market, but I will admit that it does do a world of good for the neighborhood.

It’s really quite funny to be standing on the sidewalk there on Fremont Street looking up and down at all the sites, with groceries in tote, waxing on about nothing with a friend you had no expectations of bumping into on such a morning. It’s really quite fun also.

Friday, October 10, 2014

meh.. The (new) Market

So far, so lame.
At least from an urban pedestrian who lives 1.6 miles away perspective. This morning, unlike most mornings, we drove to the new Market on Fremont Street. Yes, right now, for the time being, we are car-sitting for a relative- that story is irrelevant here.

My expectations are not sky high for the new Market, as one could safely assume, the products will be “high end” and the prices will be set to preclude their intended target demographic.

However, I am incredibly eager for the promise of Stumptown Coffee Co. , right here in our desert. Originating in Portland, Oregon, quickly expanding to Seattle and beyond, Stumptown are famous in the world of coffee bean sourcing and roasting. The proof is in the pour. I promise, one cup of Stumptown, whatever your favorite coffee beverage is, and you will become a believer.

Anyhow, we are excited to finally get some of the coveted juice here in Las Vegas.

Along with the coffee bar and fresh sandwich cafe, is the promise of growler fills. A growler is a 64 oz container used to transport draft beer. Very popular in other parts of the country, still mostly just a beer-guy thing in our valley.

My immediate concern on this mornings visit to the new grocery is,
“Where should we park?”

As if downtown (Las Vegas) were not already famed for inadequate parking, nowadays every space on every block and every lot is pay-to-park. New Las Vegas transplants from far and wide accept paying hourly to park their vehicle as normal and everyday behavior. They were broken by their masters long before they moved here.

OK. I’ll play along.

We have Las Vegas’ first grocery store that charges for parking.

I have heard people complaining about the complexity of the new parking meters. To be honest, I thought this was a little silly. “Come on”, I thought. “”It’s not that hard.”

I take it back. The NEW new parking meter boxes have an even more convoluted concept that prevents any person parking from using leftover minutes on the meter. You G-D-Mother-F-ers!


Your tax dollars at work, Fry Man.

After a couple of minutes and attempts, we figure out HOW to pay for the freaking parking.

Upon entry into the market, I think to myself, “Oh geez, I bet a greeting is about to be hurled my way.” Without fail, here it comes. “Hi. Hello. Good morning.”

Before we even get our sunglasses off of our faces, Hillary has breezed right past nearly the entire produce department without so much as a glance. This indicates to me that they are going to need better presentation in that department. It may not often seem like it, but there is a science and art to displaying produce departments in appetizing ways that make you want to buy.

Onward to the coffee and beer! We meander over to the east side of the market where the services are located. After posting up in front of the counter for a minute, taking in the menu and all else to see, we notice a little sign that says “Coming Soon” blah blah blah “Stumptown”.

Right behind the vacant barista counter, we see the beer taps also with a sign which reads: “Coming Soon” blah blah blah “Growler Fills”.

OK. Well, the two things we came for are not here. Let’s look around at the rest of the market.

Spacious and predictable. A few small coolers featuring a limited selection of craft ales and ciders, an equally curated wine collection and mostly higher end, “all natural” and organic products line the aisles. Products that typically make up a small department in a major chain grocery store basically fill the entire Market. So, you can imagine, it does look very nice. There are many essentials that one does struggle to find in or around the single digit street neighborhoods- frozen veggies, potatoes and entrees for example.

I wanted to buy something from The Market this morning, just on G.P. (general principle), yet I could not find a single item that I could actually justify purchasing because I needed it in my kitchen. There were a couple of items, but like half of the store, there were no prices on them.

Sorry, but I am not going to be that sucker. I am not going to bring a 6 pack to the register and hope for the best, but most likely say “Hell No, I’m not paying $__.__ for a six pack of _____!” Or worse still, actually pay the exorbitant price simply because I already brought it to the register and prefer to save face. No sir. No thank you.

Maybe a breakfast sandwich from the counter then?

Whoops. Now there is crowd of 8 or so people at the counter (who have not seemed to order and no person is preparing anything at the moment), so we decide to pursue another option.

A brief conversation of timeliness, our location and time left on the parking meter leads us to O Face Doughnuts.
Two savory breakfast doughnuts and an iced coffee to go, please.

The newly remodeled John E Carson hotel is a real achievement for the highly publicized, often scrutinized, Downtown Project. It stands as a premier example of redefining the downtown landscape while maintaining some historical integrity.

That is another story, however, and today we’re talking about The Market.

Market, I just have to be honest, you have let me down.

#1-WHY be on Fremont Street ? Next to a tavern/entertainment district no less? Grocery stores struggle to maintain a small profit margin and must operate in volume in order to be successful. A more accessible location, yet still downtown, must have been available for a venture of this proportion.

#2- Paying to park. I have been to San Francisco and many other cities where parking is a privilege for the few and even in those “real cities” a person is allowed to park their car at the grocery store where they are shopping. They are quick to tow you if you are abusing their lots but the store itself (usually) allows for parking.

#3- The Market is open yet not ready to be open. Unfortunately, your two big lures that got me in the door, are not yet available. Hopes dashed.

#4- Where are the prices? Products that are not priced lead me to believe that they are “over-priced”.

#5- The Name?!? For an organization that allegedly has a “Director of Imagination”, they don’t display much creativity. “Downtown Container Park”, “Eat”, “Place on 7th” and now “The Market”. Take out your smartphone and ask it to find you anything regarding “The Market” and see how helpful it is.

#6- No Brussels Sprouts. OK, now I am nit-picking. I’m just saying. Frozen brussels sprouts. That’s all.

It is 1.5 miles from my house to Smith’s on Rancho and Charleston. It is 1.6 miles from my house to The Market (on Fremont Street).

What do you have that I actually need?

On the plus side, The Market appears to be a great lunch alternative for any persons who work in the immediate downtown area.

The Market is also be a tremendous addition for guests staying at El Cortez (or Cabana Suites).

I will return when the place is fully up and running, but for the foreseeable future, I will remain a regular at White Cross Market and Su Salud es Primero (Salvadorean bodega on Main Street).

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

David Aaron Craig, Oct 2 at Hillary Salon

Dear Friends,
Your number one favorite, neighborhood hair salon, Hillary Salon has new things in store for you.
Not only do we have a new look inside our lobby, we have a new collection of work to debut from our resident artist David Aaron Craig.
You may recall last year (April 2013), the Plainview Inn premier showcase featured a highly acclaimed collection of David's desert-inspired paintings (most of which were purchased and taken into individuals homes).
Two original paintings from that show became the cover art for my book,

On sale now.
David's largest installation to date is still on display in our original location, 1104 S 3rd St, currently Vintage NV. Still one of my favorite murals in the district, it is a picturesque orange sunset with silhouetted desert foreground- pretty much David's signature style.
And now...

Preview Thursday
October 2, 2014

Hillary Salon at the Arts Factory presents...

David Aaron Craig
in our brand new lobby gallery.
6 PM, Thursday October 2nd, 2014

In other neighborhood news

We are (im)patiently awaiting the arrival of Makers & Finders Coffee
coming extremely soon to Main Street. We look forward to morning collisions with our friends and neighbors real soon.

Hop Nuts Brewing does not appear to be developing at the same pace as it's next door neighbor, Makers & Finders, but they are progressing bit by bit. Fingers crossed over here that they can get over their current hurdles.

Buffalo Exchange is inching their way nearer and nearer towards opening their doors (1209 S Main St). Their sign has been painted, the jackhammers have ceased hammering on the inside and plastic sheathing is hanging in the windows as to provide for a big reveal.

Electric Lemonade Shop has left the neighborhood. Sad but true, the Peters' girls have moved their vintage boutique online. You can still find them at the above link, or at

Viva Las Vegas Skate Shop has also departed 18b the Las Vegas Arts District. Times, they are ALWAYS a changing around these parts. Always.

Funny coincidence, LET IT ROLL skateboarding just moved into the Arts Factory, across the hall from where Viva used to be.

What's next?

Find out when you

(702) 525 1053

Friday, August 22, 2014

Birthday FUN-raiser

Dear Friends,
If every person who claims to know and like me were to contribute 1 or 2 dollars to my birthday FUN-raising campaign, I could have the happiest birthday EVER.

If you know me, you are likely aware that I do not have any parents or grandparents left in this world- the people most likely to spoil you or possibly do something unexpected for you on your birthday.

This year, now in my 37th rotation, I have finally taken it upon myself to give myself an awesome birthday present. Hillary and I are going to Austin, TX for the weekend!

We have some great friends, that we dearly miss, that we will be visiting and staying with for a long overdue reconnect.

The trip is booked. We are going. Hillary’s first time, my second, visiting the Texas capital that is legendary for it’s music scene but far more importantly it’s CULINARY SCENE.

We want to go completely travel channel in this town and EAT everything that looks remotely interesting. (Is that bad?)

Being that we will be gone all weekend long and unable to hoist a glass together (like we would if we stayed home), how about throwing in a dollar or two to our cause?

While you’re at it, we would love your advice on Austin’s can’t miss eating and drinking establishments.

In return for your buying me a taco and a beer on my birthday, I will report back to you, in hilariously entertaining detail, the adventures that we get ourselves into, here in this blog, Nevadan Earthling,

Like I said before, If every person who claims to know and like me were to contribute 1 or 2 dollars to my birthday FUN-raising campaign, I could have the happiest birthday EVER.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

a little monsoony feeling

Dear Friends,
Book your next appointment today at Hillary Salon , your friendly neighborhood hair salon.

Call (702) 525 1053

Living in Las Vegas can be de-sensitizing at times- don’t you think?

Everyday there’s another opening, another appearance, another performance, another can’t miss opportunity, another tragedy, another miracle and another reason to stay home.

At times, there are so many things to do, that it is just as satisfying to do none of them.

I am guilty of it. I admit it.

But I do try. I want to make it to your events (usually).

The entertainment capital can often shout so loud that it drowns out the humble requests.

So I ask you to please take note of this pleasant addition to our cultural landscape.


Clearly, most of you who read this newsletter are in-the-know persons and know that Todd and Bryan need no introduction to this neighborhood/arts community.

For the uninitiated, please visit:
to be brought up to speed.

Todd Von Bastiaans and Bryan McCormick have arranged to bring a play from Chicago
to our modest Art Square Theatre. (Theater at Art Square, 1025 S 1st St).
They are bringing the entire cast, crew and even the playwright for a two week engagement.

In their own words,

“It’s our gift to everyone living here. We need more quality experiences for people.”

We, that is both They and Us, hope you can attend this very worthy affair.

Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England
An amazing play/production straight from Chicago's Wit Theatre.
11 performances including matinees and evenings at the Art Square Theatre.
August 13th-the 24th

tickets and more info avaialble at:
Are we feeling parched?

18b the Las Vegas Arts District is getting antsy awaiting the arrival two new watering holes and the long pined after coffee joint.

Who will get here first?
Will it be Hop Nuts Brewing?
The first free-standing brewpub to open in our neighborhood?
Will it be Hawthorne?
The next in a series of urban lounges which dot our landscape.

Next door, and intriguingly connected to Hop Nuts Brewing is the arts district promised land,
Makers and Finders urban coffee bar.

Nearly everyday we walk by these establishments, taking in the little advancements.
Hawthorne has dramatically improved the exterior appearance of their facility,
added on additional square footage and are steady at work creating an inviting courtyard experience.

Hop Nuts and Makers have really had their work cut out for them
transforming this hallow carcass of an old furniture store into
a more forward thinking paradigm.
They have installed new storefronts inside their building
and removed the original front walls, to create a covered patio,
recessed from the sidewalk.

Do not be surprised if you see this trend popping up around the valley.

As most of us desert-dwellers recognize, our weather is almost always pleasant
if you can stay out of the direct sunlight.

And Guess Who?

It’s only taken 3-½ years, but our former location,
1104 S 3rd St, has finally found a tenant (that looks like they might be a good fit).

Hopefully, Vintage NV is now enjoying (and appreciating) the floor length mirrors,
David Aaron Craig mural , Joel Spencer designs and
my very own faux rock painting that we left behind.
I still admire seeing the brilliant orange and purple hues
popping out of that corner from a distance.

I wonder if they pronounce it “vintage Nevada” or “vintage envy”?
Tell me what you think.
Book your next appointment today at Hillary Salon

Call (702) 525 1053
Michael (+Hillary)

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Dan P. Rocksteady BBQ!

Dear Friends,
You are invited to a very special affair that we are hosting at Plainview Inn.

It's the Dan P. Rocksteady BBQ!
Exemplary front man, singer/guitarist of ska punk outfit MU330, Dan Potthast has been entertaining audiences around the world for more than 20 years.

Who is "MU330"?

I have tried to extract the meaning of the band's name from Dan and he just won't spill a drop. It's up for interpretation. I tend to believe it is related to their seating section in high school band (or something similar).

Dan P went on to put out several solo records, which he also toured extensively around the globe. watch this short video

After Dan circumvented the Earth, he decided to leave St Louis for Santa Cruz, California where he can be comfortably surrounded by the weird and nonconformist.

In Santa Cruz, Dan picks up with groups like The Stitch-Up and Dan P and The Bricks.

And now, in his 26th year of being a globetrotting ska phenomena, Dan P has spent this entire Summer travelling the United States, performing in LIVING ROOMS, backyards, bbq's and pool parties.

Join Us!

6 PM
Thursday August 7, 2014
Plainview Inn
26 w Utah ave

Dan P's Rocksteady BBQ

brought to you by Nevadan Earthling and Hillary Salon

Pot Luck style BBQ

Bring your favorite dish and/or beverage, $5 donation appreciated.

(702) 525 1053


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Plea For Sanity

Ladies and Gentleman, a plea for sanity.

Do we truly believe that these people came to Las Vegas for $0.99 Pabst Blue Ribbon?

Las Vegas City Council wants to “clean up” Fremont Street by restricting, rather specific, alcohol retailers.

At the behest of major gaming concerns, off-sale liquor retailers have been targeted as bringing an unsavory element to Fremont Street.

Many people who frequent Fremont Street choose to purchase their intoxicants from a liquor store rather than inside of a casino, presumably for the savings.

While persons of all income brackets enjoy paying a fair price for consumable goods, those who remain idle in the lowest socio-economic class have no other option than to seek the cheapest retailers.

Council members and controlling interested parties believe that stemming the proliferation of these markets will lead to a reduction in the unsavory element who currently frequent the area.

Meanwhile, the casinos who dominate the region are in the business of creating this epidemic.

A casino’s livelihood relies on it’s ability to completely bankrupt an individual and subsequently kick them out onto the street.

Can we really be so blind?

Can we continue to allow gaming moguls to capitalize on our community’s most vulnerable, reap vast profits, leaving broken individuals in their wake and not hold them accountable?


Casinos themselves should have outreach services, including mental health professionals on their staffs to combat the problem which they create.

If, in fact, the culture of gaming is safe and suitable for 90% or more of the general population and the only a small percentage of those who gamble will become afflicted, then all the more reason for these companies to be required to fund these services.

It is absolutely horrifying, that we as a community allow these giants to flourish, and when it comes time to deal with the carnage that they create, we place the blame on the symptom and not the cause.

These people did not come here for $0.99 Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Furthermore, we have a round table of politicians openly embracing these class war policies.

Consuming alcohol publicly is only legal if one looks good while doing so (and can afford the right drinks).

And now they want to create more indistinguishable laws to incarcerate those who do not fit the profile of who we/they want around in these parts.

It is (sadly, very predictable) madness.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What is a Haint?

Dear Friends,
You can now pick up a copy of my new book
when you book your next appointment at Hillary Salon.
Call Today (702) 525 1053

A little more than 10 years ago, like Las Vegans often do, my friend Joe was moving back to Las Vegas after a spell in Washington state. Upon his return, he brought with him many tales from life in the North along with keepsakes and treasures from his journey. Among those treasures was a compact disc with multiple artist’s music burned into it.

Joe was eager and pleased to share his newfound love, The Pine Hill Haints.

The Pine Hill Haints had recently performed in Seattle for a room containing many of our friends and had won their praise, mightily.

Naturally aiming to please, I decided I would bring Pine Hill Haints to Las Vegas.

Except it was not that easy.

In the past, I would search online for a favorite band, eventually find a contact email for the band or their record label and then send them an invitation to perform here.

Pretty simple.

However, these fellas who play washtubs, washboards and saws (along with the more traditional guitar, violin, drum and mandolin) come from the rural South and their online presence is virtually non-existent.

One would think that with the rise of Myspace (at the time) there would be SOMEthing out there but there was not.
I persist with very little encouraging results. Eventually, I find a DIY, online magazine that has a review of one of their shows. A funny story actually, ask me about it later, it’s creepy.

At the very end of the article, there was a blurb, “to contact Pine Hill Haints email:"
That’s strange, but it’s all I got. I sit down and write an email asking if they have ever played in Las Vegas, if they would like to, and if so I will take care of them.

Nothing happens.

It may have been a week, it may have been six months. I am not sure.
Then one sunny day on our way to the Meadows Mall, my phone rings, I answer and a Southern drawl on the other end asks, “Is this Michael Welsh?”

I confirm and he replies, “Hi, this Jamie from the Pine Hill Haints.”
Well, what do you know? This Southern gent still uses the telephone.

I cannot express to you just how eager and excited I became after that phone call.

He gave me the date of August 11th, but (like I always do) I insisted that they play two nights; the obligatory bar show and an all ages show. This is Las Vegas. Our scene is weird, just trust me on this.

And this is how a beautiful friendship was born.

Our scene being what it is, the all ages show fell through and we did a last minute house party in my living room, but the next night (August 11th, 2004) Pine Hill Haints performed inside the Cooler Lounge with Skorchamenza, Over The Line and a short-lived project called LARK.

Ask (current local band) The People’s Whiskey about LARK.

Every year since then, at some random time that I cannot predict, I receive that phone call and every year I attempt to outdo myself in putting on their show, as well as showcase my town for my out-of-town friends in pleasing and interesting new ways.

I may be the only person who cares about this, but the fact is that touring bands, whether DIY or major label, experience a rather predictable routine of sleeping, traveling and performing in venues that are equally predictable.

That’s why I like to shake things up. I have never hosted Pine Hill Haints in the same venue twice. We went from Cooler Lounge to Celebrity Theater to Art Bar, The Deep End, The Aristocrat, house and pool parties to our first hair salon (1104 S 3rd St) and on and on.

You can trust that this show is going to happen, but I am trying something new (yet) again, by not announcing the venue immediately. I can tell you that the forthcoming performance will be somewhere in or near downtown Las Vegas (where we live and play). That is a fairly safe bet.

The truth of the matter is that the venue may change based on public demand.

We have a lot of options and this is one area of expertise where I enjoy getting creative.

Now in their 10th year returning to Las Vegas, I present for your entertainment and delight,

JULY 28, 2014
with special guests Bombón (San Pedro, CA)
If you want to be a part of this year’s magic

Go to:

and purchase your admission using the PayPal button on the page. $11 in advance (using PayPal)

$15 at the door, day of show

You can also pay in cash when you
Yours, Michael(+Hillary)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pre-sale "Tickets" Now Available.
JULY 28, 2014
special guests BOMBON
Purchase your admission via PayPal.
When you complete your purchase, your name will be added to the guest list for the event.
further show information, i.e., Venue, Supporting acts, time, etc., will be sent to you via email.
$11 in advance, $15 day of show

Complete your order today and request a song from the band!

This will be the 10th year that Pine Hill Haints have returned to our dusty, western town.

Let us show them the best time that they have ever had, this year.

The Pine Hill Haints "They Tried To Kill My Momma's Son"

Friday, April 18, 2014

It's a Kids World

Lately I have been thinking about childhood. If your childhood was anything like mine, you grew up in a neighborhood filled with (what was then thought of as) middle class homes, maybe even middle-lower class, either way, it was a multi-ethnic neighborhood filled with people of all ages and varying religions.

Each weekday morning, children lumbered and meandered towards school while parents drove off in their automobiles to their respective careers. Some of us had an idea about what our parents truly did day in and day out in order to keep the lights on and the kids fed, but mostly parents existed on a different plane than the children of the neighborhood.

The parents came and left our world with regular frequency.

The Kids, if you will, had an extensive network of news and happenings all throughout the neighborhood in which parents were all but oblivious.

An adult’s world consisted of their household, their jobs, their commute to their jobs, grocery stores and figuring out “what’s for dinner?” and maybe what’s on TV every night. Grown ups were seldom interested in the goings on within the kid world.

The Kids know who just moved in or who just moved out, where the scary dogs live, who just had kittens, who got beat up on their way home from school, were they crying or not, where the big piles of leaves are or where to find the trees with ripe fruit.

Do you remember such a time?

Who do you feel more like today, the child or the adult?

I was thinking about these memories most recently because it occurred to me that I am The Kid, once again.

For a minute I had become the adult, but ever since getting rid of both of our vehicles and opting to walk most destinations (which are all mostly within 1.5 miles from our home), I have returned to the wonder-filled Kid World.

It appears to have been the automobile altering our universe all along.

Now that we live in an area that we can walk to our destinations, we are able to observe our surroundings and take in the small things that all the grown ups are missing. We have countless friends up and down every street in our urban neighborhood who wave a friendly hello or stop to chat as we pass by. Some of these people are shopkeepers, some of them are what you might quickly generalize as "homeless", (we prefer the term "outdoorsman"), while still others are complete strangers who see us everyday and are compelled to pull over their vehicle just to tell us how lovely we are. Believe it or not, that has happened on more than one occasion.

This feeling of belonging within my community takes me back to my childhood when life was far less rushed and directed more to enjoying the moment right now for what it is.

I have so many friends who seem to have forgotten the simple pleasure of walking. People who got a driver’s license as a teenager and just never looked back. I remember the humiliation of being a walking teenager while the cool kids would speed by in their own cars laughing all the way.

Back then, the automobile was a serious right-of-passage one had to reach before even being considered to be a whole person.

I understand the desperate need for youth to be “taken seriously”, at least in their own eyes, and the necessity of feeling like a real grown up. I get that. I was that person.

At some point, it all just became so exhausting; the insurance, the gasoline, the maintenance.

How much am I laboring simply to maintain this vehicular status symbol?

Compound this idea with the fact that every dollar I am spending on maintaining this vehicle is going directly to industries and companies that I abhor, whether they be insurance companies, oil companies or douchie mechanics.

We have it in our collective conscious somehow that these atrocious industries are “necessary evils” in our society.

I, myself, am quite sick and tired of necessary evils.

Although your results may vary, since shedding our automobiles, so many advertisements have been rendered useless. The ads keep coming and you really don’t realize how much of our world is auto-based until you are out of your auto.

In the mail, you have smog check coupons, ads for tires, used car sales events, etc.,

On television, there is a nonstop onslaught of insurance companies competing to save you a dollar on this presumably mandatory obligation, auto dealers liquidating their inventory, innumerable ads from manufacturers themselves along with safer tires, brakes, and the like.

Then, of course, are your gas stations conveniently located around every corner along with mechanic shops- these things don’t fix themselves.

Inside the markets are scented trees for your automobile and never-ending lines of products that have been altered for auto comfort; your bluetooth, your specially designed cup holder cup, sun visor attachments designed for easy access while driving.

And let’s not forget dude….. Food designed to be eaten while driving.

So many inventions that are completely useless to me, due to my decision to say No.

No, I do not need to earn an extra $600-1000 per month that I can contribute to reprehensible industries that are poisoning our planet as well as ourselves.


So you won’t think that I’m a loser?

For the convenience of driving to Del Taco on a whim?

I can see that it is the whimsical behavior that most people seem to be addicted to.

When I want something, I really need it and I need it right now, no questions asked.

This is very childish behavior. You might NEED to get to a hospital now and again, but I seriously doubt that you NEED a cheeseburger.

You might be asking yourself some basic questions like:

How do you get groceries?

How do you get to work?

Pick up your kids? Etc.,

First off, I don’t have any children and do not plan on having them, so yes, right there you could probably shut down and assume that your kids need your car. Fine. I’m not arguing with anyone over here. This is just my tale.

My partner and I walk to work (less than half a mile) each way. In the event that we have heavy objects to transport or inclement weather, we take the bus. Two people, one way equals $4.

Groceries? Of course, the G D groceries!? Vehicle or no vehicle, I highly recommend ordering your groceries online. I use VONS, but I am sure there are others. I can sit with my list of items that I need and fill my cart online, select a delivery window, pay online and just sit back and wait for the grocery man to wheel all of my goods up to my door. In many cases, the store offers free delivery but even if I had to pay $6.99 for delivery, it would still be completely worth it. Note: their drivers are not allowed to accept tips.

While there is little to zero chance of our society moving toward independence from automobiles at least in the foreseeable future, there is still a lot of room for individuals to free themselves from the clutches of this vehicular octopus,

We did not always have such a simple life. We took deliberate steps to create this lifestyle for ourselves.

If you have a desired way-of-life that you are not currently fulfilling, I would suggest taking personal inventory on what aspects of your life take priority.

Next, stop accepting “necessary evils” in your life.

Purchase ****THIS IS NOT SPAM**** TWENTY THIRTEEN Renaissance by Michael Welsh.

Purchase ****THIS IS NOT SPAM**** TWENTY THIRTEEN Renaissance by Michael Welsh.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Como Me Encanta

I do not intend for this to be a food-centric blog, but food is something we all need, so it can also be the great denominator.

Hopefully, for your own sake, you read the earlier post, “Where I Eat”, a veritable gold mine in local dining awesome spots.

In “Where I Eat”, I praised Los Molcajetes for being thee most amazing mexican fare you are going to find ANYWHERE. This is true, we do love us some Molcajetes.

Yet, there is and almost always has been something lacking from Las Vegas Mexican food/restaurants- DELIVERY.

I have no doubt that you, reading this right now, have a list or even a drawer full of delivery restaurants in your kitchen (or similar) at home. You have your favorite pizza place and thai restaurants, maybe chicken wings, traditional Americana, etc.,

But WHERE are the Mexican delivery restaurants?

12 or so years ago, I would get delivery from a little place called La Familia ( located at Jones/US 95), which later became Mi Familia and later still became a vacancy.

That place was amazingly authentic, including “weekend cures” of menudo, pozole, barbacoa and the like. Mmm mmm… nothing like getting a piping hot pozole delivered to your door on Sunday morning.

Neither here nor there.

Ten years have gone by, but now, finally….

We have discovered an all out fantastic Mexican restaurant THAT DELIVERS!!!

To be certain, we have ordered from them 4 times in the past week, trying different menu items and here I sit today overjoyed to share the good news- LOS HUICHOLES.

I queue up mariachi music while we devour our tacos and burritos, chips and salsas, as to enhance the experience.

The food is incredibly authentic AND affordable. AFFORDABLE TOO???


$0.99 mini tacos (buy half a dozen or more at least)
$3.99 breakfast burritos
$4.99 burritos (choice of several meats)
All kinds of Mexican family specialties, a full veggie menu and full American menu (with burgers, fries, cheese steaks, wings, that kind of thing) to boot.

As with most all delivery restaurants, you are going to be limited to your radius (aka distance from the restaurant).

Los Huicholes is located at 546 N Eastern Ave, and their delivery area is roughly 3 miles. Great news for downtown Las Vegas (as we get delivered to all the way over at I-15/Oakey Ave).

It gets better.

No habla espanol? No problemo.

We discovered this beautiful treasure of a restaurant while perusing, a website dedicated to getting you whatever type of grub you like delivered to your door.

Browse the full menu and complete your order, even pay using paypal, google wallet or credit card online. No miscommunication due to verbal translation errors.

It does tend to take about 75 minutes for delivery.

The extra 30-45 minutes to wait for food from Los Huicholes (opposed to other delivery restaurants) is like a meditation, preparing oneself for the glory one is about to recieve. It makes the food taste that much better.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Main Street/18b Roundup


I don't like to get overly eager or excited about all the rumors swirling around this place because that can be disappointing in the end.

Except this time, these promises appear much more realistic, even the ones that sound like ridiculous pipe dreams.

Hop Nuts/Makers and Finders
Beer and Coffee making their way to Main Street. Construction has been going on bit by bit for some time and things look like they still have a way to go but keep your eyes peeled for this building to reshape the entire feel of South Main St in the near future.

Buffalo Exchange
Patina Decor and Skin City have both vacated their Main Street storefronts and until now we had no idea who, what or why was to come but now we have received believable testimony that the mother of all recycled fashion stores will be taking residency in the spaces left vacant by the two aforementioned boutiques. We noticed the dividing wall being demolished as we passed by yesterday morning (and there is a chance that they will be added to the next Antique Alley map ahead of their actual arrival).

UPDATE: The wall has been removed!

Rockin Bettie
Directly across the street from the forthcoming Buffalo Exchange, (where Better Than New lifestyle boutique pulled anchor several weeks ago), Rockin Bettie, formerly a kiosk inside the Meadows Mall as well as a mobile fashion-vending trailer and online store, is speedily making 1216 S Main Street her/their own.

Laura's Treasures
Vegas Vintage (and their associated booth retailers) migrated North from Imperial Ave to Colorado Ave not too long ago and now that space will be home to Laura's Treasures. Have yet to meet Laura but it's one more space filled in on the block.

Tenaya Creek Brewery
I do not know how these rumors get started, but my source, who is extremely credible in the world of Las Vegas beer culture confirmed to me that Tenaya Creek brewing has plans to open on 3rd Street in (or at least near) the arts district. I know of few buildings capable of such majesty on 3rd St, and a couple of empty lots possibly suitable for building. Either way, we wait patiently to witness any material development of this awesome brewery.

Patina Decor
Patina may have been coerced out of their space on Main, but this is a positive lateral move for this fabulous boutique. Patina has taken over OMT, who vacated their spaced shortly after having a baby. Just a block South on Main Street and across the street.

Galaxy Street Market
Formerly Galaxy Foam, the new owners have already been approved for a tavern limited license, but now the big news is that this vintage building will be re-purposed into a bazaar-type market featuring live food preparation, outdoor cart businesses and artisan vendors. Partners promise it will be "the first of it's kind in Las Vegas..."
Read more:

Jerry Misko
One of Las Vegas' more recognizable and prolific artists is moving back into the Arts Factory. Welcome home, Jerry.

Widow Den/Happy Panda
Have you been to the Arts Factory recently? Two boutiques have expanded into Charleston-facing storefront space. Happy Panda Toys and Widow Den have both done remarkable jobs expanding their store brands as well as their inventory.

Winfield Manor
Kamran Fouladbakhsh is not the household name that some other downtown developers have become, but here in my neighborhood, he and his family are responsible for some of the most drastic improvements. They have transformed at least 3 different micro-apartment communities into desirable living conditions for the new wave of urban-dwellers. He purchased the Galaxy Foam building, which is awaiting it's transformation (into Galaxy Street Market). They're currently creating a 2 story 1920's theme urban lounge plus mixed use facility out of the former Art Haus studios. But that's not all... They're also in the midst of bringing Winfield Manor, not only back to life, but to a future glory. Most recently, this building housed an AA/NA meeting place, a terribly outdated laundromat and (something of a) halfway house upstairs. Very soon, this old haunt will boast some primo living quarters and a restaurant on the ground floor. Hallelujah.

1129 S. Casino Center Blvd

The Box Office. scratch that. The Morton Office.
We had exemplary optimism that renown restaurateurs Michael and Jenna Morton would be turning the building on the corner opposite Winfield Manor, formerly music and theatre venue The Box Office, into a restaurant- but they're not. They are, however, making the building into their own corporate offices. This will at least bring professionals into the neighborhood on a daily basis, which should prove to be a positive.

Cannabis. Say what?
No doubt you have probably heard that Cannabis dispensaries are going to begin being licensed to operate within the City of Las Vegas and wouldn't you know it, they're likely opening up within the arts district. I have caught word on a couple of different locations, but I am not acknowledging anything until I see this for myself. I'm not necessarily opposed to dispensaries, but I don't believe it to be a very progressive move either.

Purchase ****THIS IS NOT SPAM**** TWENTY THIRTEEN Renaissance by Michael Welsh.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Slow This Town Down (please)

Quite literally every other day in Southern Nevada someone’s life is taken due to vehicular traffic. Many more individuals survive these collisions, often with life-altering injuries.

Every morning that I rise to meet the day and read the daily news, there is a 1 in 3 chance that a member of our community has just been killed by or in an automobile.

I have to keep saying this because it never seems to sink in to those who hear (or read) these facts.

My mother died prematurely from medical complications that were finally unresolvable. My father passed away at a presumably expected age of 82 after several years of gradual decline in functioning ability.

My nephew lost the battle to leukemia at the tender age of 7, while my neighbor Dave was stricken down by the same disease at the age of 37.

I don’t even think I can track the number of our friends and family who have been affected from breast (among other) cancer. Some of whom are survivors and others we remember with the fondest of memories.

No amount of medicine or prayers could prevent the demise of those we lost from those awful diseases.

Yet 114 individuals who are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews in our community were killed in 2013 right here on our streets, from motor vehicle operational errors. Traffic “accidents”.

More than half of those people were pedestrians. Many of those pedestrians were declared to be at fault.

When I read this in the news, which occurs dozens of times over each year, it always makes me a little nauseous.

Eight (plus) lanes of vehicular traffic (4 lanes travelling each direction) at speeds well over 45 mph, running alongside 48 inches of pedestrian walkway, separated by a 5 inch tall curb and city blocks that are half of a mile long (standard).

No, the pedestrians are not at fault (generally speaking). The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada is at fault.

Why are there laws prohibiting walking/bicycling on the freeway, when our surface streets and their juxtaposition to pedestrian access appear just as dangerous? I challenge each and every person at the RTC to attempt walking along (almost) any major street in this valley.

Better still, let me be specific, and please I encourage ANY person reading this whatsoever to take me up on this.

Take a walk along Sahara Ave from Maryland Parkway to Eastern Avenue. Eastbound or westbound, it makes no difference. Bring a friend, for two reasons; the buddy system and two, because you will need a witness to believe what you see.

Not only is the sidewalk far too close to the bustling surface street filled with angry, distracted motorists, but the geniuses who “planned” this walkway, added decorative impediments to the path itself.

As it is, the width of the walkway is barely wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side, but you must also weave around trees, light poles and fire hydrants. In some places, there are even extra-wide spaces dedicated to landscaping that separates the people walking on the sidewalk from the adjacent parking lots or block wall, opposed to wider sidewalks or heavens forbid, create a buffer between the people walking on the sidewalk and the cars driving in the street.

To make this brief lesson in civic planning really sink in, please (at least attempt to) use the mid-block crosswalk. Watch the vehicles approaching the crosswalk as they slow down but give you no indication whether or not they see you or intend to come to a complete stop.

See if you can walk across the massive street within the allotted seconds on the crossing meter.

While you’re on this 20 minute stroll, please be sure to look down and take special note of the many tire tracks on the sidewalk you will undoubtedly pass along the way.

If Sahara/Maryland is too central or inconvenient for you, go ahead and try treading down Buffalo or Cheyenne or Sunset or just about any other major thoroughfare in this valley.

The way that I see it, every major street in this city could stand to lose a lane (sometimes 2 or even 3) which can be re-dedicated to wider buffers between motorists, pedestrians and bicycles. Bicycles and skateboards could be given their own path that is not in the street nor on the sidewalk.

The bus routes that travel these major streets need dedicated lanes, if not to be replaced by a modern light rail system altogether.

The motorist who commutes each day (to work or wherever) in their own personal vehicle has a schedule to keep, however, the minutes these individuals waste or save in doing so, is of absolutely zero importance to me.

If slow-moving traffic gets you down than figure out another way to get where you’re going . Leave earlier, switch modes of transportation, move closer to your workplace.

Sluggish commuter traffic is no justification for taking human lives (from right here within our community), and this is precisely what is happening each time a solution of adding lanes, widening streets and raising speed limits is reached in our city.

It’s been the wrong approach for more than 30 years and I doubt that in 30 years, the “public servants” who reach these decisions have ever attempted to take the walk that I mentioned.

It is so completely embarrassing for a city such as Las Vegas, which basks in fabulous outdoor weather at least 8 months out of the year, that recreational areas and activities such as walking, jogging, bicycling, skateboarding, etc., have been all but eliminated from public view.

Out in the suburban sprawling, master-planned communities, these simple things that add so much quality to one’s life exist, but on the way to get there from the city’s core there is not much more than cinder block walls, sparse trees and shopping centers.

In downtown Las Vegas, what are called “complete streets” which feature ample sidewalk space, parking, bike lanes, shade trees, benches, bike racks, mid-block crosswalks and a single lane for vehicle travel in each direction, are being constructed.

Along 1st Street from Boulder Ave to Bridger Avenue, where a “complete street” has been completed, are 8 city blocks that also equal 1 mile. It is a beautiful sight for sure, except it took nearly 4 whole years to complete this one mile stretch. For what it is worth, it is a very nice walk in either direction, connecting the arts district with city hall, Bonneville Transit Center, Fremont St and the local detention center (look for reality television show Las Vegas Jailhouse on RealTV for behind the scenes action).

In a few short years, Main Street (Las Vegas) will get a similar treatment when it is converted into a one-way street ushering vehicles north from the Stratosphere, through the arts district and toward Fremont Street. Likewise, Commerce (west of Main St) will send motorists south toward The Strip.

The future for downtown Las Vegas is progressively on course with little to fear, but this is not where the fatalities on our roadways are constantly occurring. The fatal collisions are happening virtually everywhere but in the downtowns of Las Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City. Lives are being taken on our surface streets and even inside our neighborhoods.

This is not an acceptable norm for our society. We can and we must stop this from continuing.

It starts with the City and the Metropolitan Police Department mandating education to those who need it.

How do we do this?

The city must first create a civics class that covers all necessary subjects, including but not limited to; rules of the road, pedestrian safety, bicycle safety and driver’s ed.

We are a transplant community, where more than 70% of the population moved here from someplace else. Insisting that all new residents, licensing themselves or registering their vehicles at the DMV, be required to take such a course in civics and local laws would be an incredibly wise decision.

Unlike the current traffic school which serves as a kind of punishment in which an offending motorist attends a class to avoid demerits on their record, this school should be a welcome learning environment that everyone will truly benefit from. Also unlike the existing traffic school (and health card class for this matter), one must actually pass the course through examinations to prove they have retained the knowledge put forth.

Certainly, these classes and teachers already exist, they are just not being properly utilized. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here, we just need to gather our (human) resources and put them to a more proper use.

Next, Metro takes progressive action citing every jaywalker they see, every bicycle driving on the sidewalk, every motorist who fails to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and bicycles- essentially any person who is being reckless and/or endangering the public.

Obviously, our society has back doors for the wealthy, so you won’t be able to insure that every single dangerous person on the road will take the civics class over a hefty fine, but it is a very good step in the right direction.

Today, we have television commercials featuring some lawyer and some law enforcement officer telling us that we need to “look out” and “be careful”. Not very effective. I would much rather see ads demonstrating the difference between safe and unsafe behavior, including the “3 foot rule”.

I would bet that the majority of drivers in this town are completely unaware that they are required by law to leave 3 feet between their vehicle and a person who is riding a bicycle (when passing). Although, I suppose they’re not really “required by law” if law enforcement does nothing to enforce said law. Maybe it’s time to start enforcing this law and maybe bicyclists can get off of the sidewalk.

Bicyclists on the sidewalk.

I am afraid that I might murder someone one of these days and I really do not want to. It’s just that every time a bicycle nearly takes me (and my partner) out while I am walking on the sidewalk, I am incredibly tempted to bump them just so, sending them flying into the mass of vehicles hurling past. It would be so easy and over so fast and then I would likely live the rest of my life in regretful, utter misery inside of a Nevada penitentiary- which is why I don’t do it. That and I am a truly gentle soul.

But it is so very tempting.

I can empathize however. Though local customs define a bicycle as a moving vehicle that belongs in the roadway, I completely understand wanting to drive your bicycle on the sidewalk.

I did the very same thing when I was growing up in this town until about the age of 12 or 13 when I began to comprehend that the sidewalk is reserved solely for pedestrians aka walking.

It is such an easy mistake to make, largely because the idea of bicycles sharing the road with automobiles is suicidal at best. Who in their right mind ever truly believed that a person driving a bicycle (even with a helmet) should be using the exact same paths as 2 ton hunks of steel traveling at increasing excessive speeds? Who, I ask!

This brings us back to the civics class. Many, I mean to say, an enormous chunk of our population, have moved here from countries south of the United States.

Get this.

As it has been explained to me, in these central American countries, you are required to ride bicycles on the sidewalk and it is illegal (and even more insane) to drive them in the street.

Could it be that someone needs to sit them down and explain how things work here?

If the local governments and law enforcement don’t act then who will?

No one.

The police will simply continue to REACT to offenders and issue fines as if this is a way to prevent crime. It’s not.

This may sound overly simplified but that is just because the answers appear to be just that simple.

Educate the public.
Educate them and keep doing so until the magic number of ZERO FATALITIES is a reality.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Where I Eat (in downtown Las Vegas)

This is NOT a complete list of dining establishments in Las Vegas and it is NOT intended to be. These are a few of my favorite restaurants that are generally within two miles, or walking distance, from my house.

First, a little about me.
I was born in Las Vegas, NV in 1977. I grew up on both the east and west sides of town almost simultaneously. From the age of 3 till around 13, I would spend weekdays with my Mother and Step-Dad, attending school and playing in neighborhoods near about Pecos and Owens (the Las Vegas-North Las Vegas border), while weekends would be with my father near Washington Ave and Michael Way.

My Father taught in the Clark County School District and as he would put it, had therefore taken a vow of poverty. Mom and Stepdad worked in Hotel-Casino food and beverage, a waitress and a chef, respectively.

What does this have to do with anything?

Dad’s frugality helped me teach myself how to get the most for my dollar and how to identify value over gimmicks, while living with my Mother and Stepfather showed me culinary expertise at it’s finest and behind-the-scenes action inside some of our city’s grand resorts.

This background is enhanced by my own personal experience as a solo singer-songwriter travelling, seeking and finding quality accommodations on an impossibly small budget.

Add to this equation, the fact that my partner and I have been live/work/walking in our downtown for the past 4-½ years and hopefully you will agree that I am THE person that you want to tell you WHERE I EAT (and drink).

I will include a separate list of vegetarian/vegan dining destinations for our friends who abstain from consuming animal-based products. I sincerely respect their choice and admire those who can maintain the diet and lifestyle.

Let’s get started with the most obvious. The most popular meal in all of America….

PIZZA ROCK, 201 N 3rd St/Ogden aka DT3
Slices come and slices go and we’ve tried just about them all, but nowhere in this town can beat (maybe tie but not beat) Pizza Rock. You can dine-in and get any number of sinfully delicious craft creations and they will amaze you. I (very seriously) suggest that you start with their award-winning Pizza Margherita and experiment from there. If you’re anything like me, the futuristic dystopia decor inside Pizza Rock will prevent you from wanting to ever return. DO NOT PANIC. Do what we do, forget the dine-in restaurant and grab a NY slice from the walk-up window outside or at the front counter. $3.50 for cheese, another quarter for pepperoni and $5 for the daily New Yorker special.The slice will likely be bigger than your head and you can pull up a chair in the sidewalk seating on 3rd st. You and your +1, two of the best slices you’ll find anywhere + gratuity = $10

VIVA LAS AREPAS, 1616 S Las Vegas Blvd/Oakey
Felix Arellano brought incredibly succulent, mouth-watering, authentic Venezuelan fare to Las Vegas Blvd when he opened his arepa stand in front of Dino’s bar. The American dream encapsulated, Felix works hard everyday and every day he’s expanding his legacy, his brand and best of all, his wood-fired grilled chicken. 3 piece plus beans, rice and a drink is $6.99 and chances are you can’t finish the entire plate in one sitting. No matter what you order, you can’t resist their signature habanero and cucumber salsas. I recommend getting the full bird with two sides for $14.99, or better yet the mixed grill; chicken, ribs, sausage and asada with two sides, it’s $19.99 but feeds two people for two days or 4 teenagers once. Again, I cannot express enough just how excellent the smoky goodness is that Felix and his crew infuse into their foods. He belongs on the Travel Channel with any number of their top eating destination programs.

ROCK N’OODLES 1108 s 3rd St (south of Charleston)
The brand new Arts District noodle shop is outstanding. Their “eclectic noodle creations” are top notch and leave you wanting more. I can’t promise, but in my experience, the portions are very large and enough to feed two people (or one person twice). Once or twice, this was not the case, but it doesn’t matter because you still get a great quality meal for a reasonable price. As I understand it, the kitchen staff were all hired from the culinary school at CSN, and you can taste it in everything these kids dish out. Even better still is the daily creations and soup of the day. Top this all off with the fact that they are always cranking out the jams, which brings vibrant energy to the neighborhood.

STREETCAR PO BOYS, 1624 W Oakey/Western Ave
This brand new discovery really excites me. I only learned just last year about the power of the magical, New Orleans-style Po Boy sandwich when dining at Las Vegas’ popular Louisana kitchen, Lola’s (at Holsum Lofts). I did not enjoy my entrees at Lola’s, but the shrimp Po Boy was out-of-this-world! If you’re familiar with Lola’s kitchen, you already understand that they are a very small facility and are almost always packed- which is fabulous for Lola. I, however, don’t really care for cramped dining. Lucky for us, Streetcar Po Boys has a large spacious dining room, is really close to our house and serves a BIG menu of Po Boys every bit as good as, IF NOT BETTER THAN, Lola’s. HINT: The large Po Boy is double the size of the regular for $2-3 more. It’s very worth it.

LOS MOLCAJETES, 1553 N Eastern Ave/Owens
OK, this restaurant is not downtown but it's very nearby and it's the best of it's kind, so it is completely worth a slightly longer trek.
I have lived in Las Vegas all of my life and I have eaten Mexican food in restaurants, Mexican families homes and all over Southern California too. I noticed sometime around the late 1990’s that Mexican restaurants (in Las Vegas) began to seriously wane. Quality ingredients and fresh spice were replaced by pools of poor quality, inexpensive shredded cheese smothered over beans, rice and sauce. The curious attribute to this phenomena is that it only occurs where restaurants also serve alcohol. Taquerias are speckled all over this valley still serving good home cooking at reasonable prices, yet if they start serving tequila… watch out. Los Molcajetes is the best Mexican fare I have tasted (in this town) in I don’t know how long. Don’t make me explain this, just trust me. Go on Wednesday, bottled mexican beers are $1, order whichever one of the there molcajetes sounds most appealing for you and your guest. When the boiling cauldron of goodness arrives at your table, all will be right with the world. $16-21 feeds two, plus however many dollar beers you can handle. It is a very good thing.

PASTA PIRATE, 12 E Ogden Ave/Main St
Sometimes you just NEED a good steak and downtown Las Vegas has many, really good places to choose from. From Oscar’s at The Plaza to Hugo’s Cellar at 4 Queens to Andiamo at The D. Go to any of the restaurants and you’re likely to pay $32 to $50 for a nice filet mignon plus a la carte side dishes. Try this one on for size; 6 oz filet with prawns, vegetables, choice of potato, soup or salad AND a glass of wine for a grand total of $18. Yes, eighteen American dollars for this entire meal which just so happens that the meal is served in the slightly finer dining restaurant right next door, The Redwood Grill for $10 more. Same kitchen, same cooks, same everything but it costs $10 less inside Pasta Pirate.

CHICAGO JOE’S, 820 S 4th St/Hoover
It doesn’t matter who you’re wooing. Whether you want to meet a friend over lunch, impress your new lover or you're having a quiet anniversary with your spouse- do this. Get a table at Las Vegas’ most adorable restaurant establishment, Chicago Joe’s. Order a carafe of burgundy wine and the escargot appetizer, enjoy them together with the crusty bread on the table. It is perfect all by itself, you don’t even need to bother with an entree. Prices subject to change but it should be about $25 total. In the event that you are hungry for their American-Italian fare, I recommend the lasagna or the eggplant parmigiana.

WHITE CROSS MARKET, 1700 S Las Vegas Blvd/Oakey
This traditional market/sandwich deli carries Boars Head products. The utterly decadent italian combo sandwich full of processed meats, packed with all the pickled trimmings and drenched in oil and vinegar is perfect for those who fear not for their heart’s health. But who wants to live a long life without eating this sandwich at least once or twice? A fella I have known for 20 years recently posted on facebook that the pastrami sandwich at White Cross was the best he has ever eaten in his entire life. Is this enough of an endorsement? $8-10

CLAM CHOWDER and so much more
TIFFANY’S CAFE, 1700 S Las Vegas Blvd/Oakey
Tiffany’s Cafe may be the very last great greasy spoon in Las Vegas. Open 24/7 365 and they deliver. God Bless Tiffany’s Cafe. Tiffany’s offers the full cafe menu of breakfast, lunch, dinner, daily specials and soup du jour. On Friday, Tiffany’s Cafe makes their famous clam chowder. Naturally, I prefer eating my chowder in Monterey Bay, CA, but since we don’t have that option, Tiffany’s does the next best thing.

ART OF FLAVORS, 1616 S Las Vegas Blvd/Oakey
This corner has been famous for Luv-It Custard for so long that I can’t remember it any other way. Well, you can forget about Luv-It, because Art of Flavor gelateria has arrived. Please don’t be hasty, just let your taste buds decide. Desyree comes from Italy and she is the real deal when it comes to gelato. Everything she creates is made fresh every day and she comes up with dazzling flavor combinations that you simply have to taste to believe. OK, so you want some examples? Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Rosemary, Salmon, Chocolate and Chili pepper. These are gelato flavors I am naming. Tiramisu, Pistachio, Pickle, everyday there is something new and unexpected, plus sorbets and espresso.

MAIN STREET STATION, 200 N Main Street/Stewart Ave
My very favorite aspect of “the new downtown” is that our new inhabitants never venture further west than 3rd st. From 3rd st to 9th is bustling with young urban professionals and bars where drink prices just keep growing taller and taller with each new establishment that opens attempting to become more elite than the rest. You can cram all that noise, I have zero interest in the crowded over-priced bar scene. It’s like kryptonite to me. When I want to drink, I want to a) be able to get a drink and b) be able to afford as many as (I deem) necessary. Until now, I have shied away from telling strangers about what they’re missing out on because I don’t want to see my favorite haunts turn into the insanity that is happening right down the block. On the other hand, however, I decided that it sure would be more fun if we could ever run into our friends by happenstance while out our bar. Friends, our absolute favorite bar in this town is the casino bar at Main Street Station hotel-casino. The bar itself is regal and magnificent stretching somewhere close to 100 feet long made entirely of marble and brass. The casino is the only downtown casino that smells nothing like those you are familiar with. It does not reek of smoke and air freshener. The classic southern train station decor feels like a step back in time to Las Vegas’ railroad origins. All of these attributes only enhance the fact that THIS IS A BREWERY. HELLO!?!? Not only does Triple 7 Brewpub create a variety of tasty fresh brew, but they sell it for $1.75 per pint. I said “one dollar and seventy-five cents”! If you are drinking anywhere else in this town you are probably doing it wrong. You don’t drink beer? Call drinks average about $3.50. Yes, that means Jameson. What do you say? Will we see you there anytime soon? I can still do you one better. Gentleman only, once you have swilled your fair share of the sauce, you will no doubt need to relieve yourself. Get ready for this. The men’s room (off the casino floor) inside Main Street Station has a big chunk of the actual Berlin Wall. The urinals are attached to it. YOU, yourself, get to personally urinate on a piece of the Berlin Wall (each and every time you have to go). The feeling is so gratifying that I get emotional just writing about it. There are photos along with the story of the Berlin Wall posted overhead so you can read about it while relieving yourself.
Now, how does THAT sound?


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day whether you eat it or not. Not only is breakfast essential to “breaking the fast” of overnight sleep and giving your body and brain sustenance to survive on, but it’s also ceremonious. There are so many ways to engage breakfast and there are different solutions for varying scenarios, which is why breakfast deserves it’s own list for the many different ways we indulge in it.

Lazy, Tired, Hungover and/or just plain out of food.

Tiffany’s Cafe delivers ultimate hangover medication 24/7 365. Steak and Eggs? Philly Cheese? Tiffany burger? Country-fried steak with biscuits and gravy? Your results may vary but they are at my house in under 15 minutes in most cases.

It’s a gorgeous day and you have time to take it easy.

Viva Las Arepas patio-dining. What’s better than the amazing food at Viva? Eating it outdoors on a pristine day. Viva does an amazing breakfast arepa with scrambled eggs, ham, onions and peppers. But who says you have to eat eggs for breakfast, dive in to the whole menu.

You’re not just hungry, you could eat a cow.

Hash House au-go-go at the Plaza Hotel is absolutely famous for their gargantuan portions and plate presentations. On my last visit, I finally discovered their sage fried chicken. Holy gee whiz! I will never order anything but ever again as long as I live. (maybe)

We are sitting down with loved ones on a Sunday morning.

Golden Nugget brunch buffet. Hey. It is what it is. But the Golden Nugget buffet serves a slightly better quality nosh at their buffet than anywhere else downtown and they have a great view overlooking the pool and shark tank. During particularly nice weather ask for a table by the window which makes for great people-watching too. Oh. thats right! All-you-can-drink champagne is also included.

It’s a weekday and you live or work in or near the Arts District and need food.
Rock'N’Oodles is open for breakfast at 7:30 am. Breakfast burritos are likely near the top of the list for mankind’s greatest inventions and you can get one here before the rest of the neighborhood has risen to meet the day. Also a nice place to sit outside weather permitting.

Nothing sounds good anymore, I need something else.

Nacho Daddy is located on 4th street (which is a northbound one-way street BTW), just north of Fremont St. If you see Ogden, you missed it. We have only dined at Nacho Daddy on one occasion (their opening day), but I found the menu to be quite reasonable with a lot of options for the adventurous and mild diner alike. My burrito was quite good and left me wanting more. The chips they use for their nacho fusion creations, you will either love or hate. There is no way to recommend, you just have to try them for yourself and decide.

Just show me to a good old fashioned diner.

Du Par’s at the Golden Gate hotel (Las Vegas oldest, still operating hotel). I have loved this San Francisco themed diner all of my life, or at least as long as I have been aware of it, which has been longer than I recall. Once, the Bay City Diner, The Du Par chain of family restaurants took over operations in 2009 (or 10) and kicked it up a few notches. Besides the adorable, vintage-style outfits worn by the wait staff, this diner is now famous for their homemade pies and preserves. I can’t attest to the pies but they do make the best preserves I have found. I could have toast and jelly with a cup of coffee and be completely satisfied. One thing that did change for the worse when Du Par’s took over is the menu pricing. Bay City was famous for classic breakfast combinations for very modest prices (very old school Las Vegas). Today, a simple bacon, eggs, potatoes and toast will run you about $11. Very similar to the prices right across the street at Hash House au-go-go.

I want good food and good-looking people all around me in a crowded, noisy environment.

Eat. Downtown. I’m not grunting, that is the name of the restaurant. Chef Natalie was procured by the Downtown Project to open her restaurant at 7th St and Bridger Ave and since their inception, they have been full. Turns out there really was a healthy swath of people pining for a decent breakfast/lunch destination (downtown). The vittles this kitchen cranks out are second to none and just about the only complaint I hear anyone utter is that the incessant noise of chatter, kitchen clanging along with background music is just too much to take while trying to enjoy one’s meal. So, maybe bring some earplugs just in case.


Not very long ago at all, restaurants catering to vegetarianism were few to none in downtown Las Vegas. In fact, in September of 2009, when my partner and I relocated (from the west side of town) to downtown Las Vegas, we were both practicing vegetarians and I think the only restaurant truly catering to the lifestyle was Paymon’s Mediterranean bistro at The Arts Factory. The have since left the neighborhood but I still crave their middle east sampler; dolmas, falafel, pita, hummus, baba ganoush, Aztec fries, tomatoes and parsley salad. Mmm! The whole plate would feed both of us for a mere $12.

That meal is still available at their UNLV and Summerlin locations, but this is very beside my point. In 2009, there was one vegetarian/vegan option and today there are scores of them.

BarBistro @ the Arts Factory
Wouldn’t you know it, the restaurant that currently occupies the space left from the former Paymon’s Mediterranean is still one of the leading vegan dining destinations in downtown Las Vegas. What separates BarBistro from other vegan menus is their lack of soy. Most vegetarian/vegan restaurants use many soy-based products to compensate for the animal-based product which they are abstaining from. Chef Beni Velazquez does not believe in using soy-based products citing them as not healthy for human consumption. He rather opts for oats in lieu of beef and tapioca-based faux cheese. Try the vega-bocadillo and stuffed piquillo peppers.

My favorite dish at Rock'N’Oodles just so happens to be one of there vegetarian dishes. Marrakesh Express; Israeli couscous in lemon vinaigrette with roasted eggplant, bell pepper, zuchinni, tomato and olives, topped with toasted pine nuts, crumbled feta and harissa sauce. Hold the feta and make it vegan. This being a “cold noodle” dish, it is the perfect anytime snack for people who don’t often get an actual sit down lunch during their busy day. Spectacular vegan soups on some days.

Pura Vida
Chef Mayra’s vegan bystro (spelled with a “y” to reflect the russian origin of the word) is a true vegan mecca. Mayra takes her food very seriously to the extent of where she sources her goods, how they are treated, right down the spirituality of the plants and vegetables she uses. This is a completely cruelty-free kitchen. In fact, the only cruelty that goes on here is the amount of time you may have to wait to get your meal. She’s not shy about telling you to relax and take it easy, have some water and/or coffee because you are going to be here awhile. The coffee and the non-dairy, coconut-based creamer are fantastic.

Bronze Cafe at The Center
The Center at 401 S. Maryland Parkway is the kind of facility that every neighborhood in Las Vegas could use. This particular center is intended to service the LGBTQ community in Las Vegas. Sponsored by some of Nevada’s biggest gaming heavyweights, The Center provides outreach services for any person seeking them, internet access, a reading room, an undeniably fantastic cafe/bakery and more. The Bronze Cafe brought to you by Steve and Andrea Wynn (both vegan advocates) serves vegan and non-vegan dishes alike and every incredibly scrumptious thing on their menu is made fresh and served on freshly baked bread.

Bier Garten at The Plaza Hotel
Do you know who else is vegan? Mr Sam Cherry of Cherry Development, the fella who brought you SoHo and Newport Lofts as well as Pop Up Pizza and now the newly opened Bier Garten at The Plaza. This German inspired beer and sausage joint made sure to keep save at least one place on their menu for vegans. The Naked City; veggie Tofurkey sausage with roasted sweet peppers, chopped raw onion, kosher relish, german mustard and Sriracha ketchup. If that doesn’t do much for you, you can stroll over to the south end of the property for a slice of SoHo (from Pop Up Pizza); vegan mozzarella, spinach, mushroom, artichokes and roasted red peppers.

Huntridge Pharmacy
I have to be honest, I have never eaten at this establishment (since Bill Fong and his daughter left way back in, I don’t know, 2008?). I may venture here soon merely for the classic decor of a lunch counter diner inside of a pharmacy, a dying breed in our town. Right next door to the famed Huntridge Tavern.

This very happening new restaurant features fresh ingredients “from farm to table”, gluten-free, vegan pizza, fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies and a full bar. I have never eaten here for several reasons. #1, I go to Pizza Rock for pizza and #2, the place is always jam packed with people each time I have passed by. That must be a good sign that people are loving the place.

I have never had a falafel sandwich better than Amena bakery, on Decatur Blvd and Obannon, in the Trader Joe’s shopping plaza. But if I want to get a falafel sandwich downtown, I will probably hit the corner of Wyoming Ave/Las Vegas Blvd for a Goodwich. This sandwich hut in front of Dino's bar is where Felix from Viva Las Arepas started his legacy. Jake from Goodwich was (allegedly) the first customer of Felix's back when he first opened his arepa stand. Great guy that he is, Felix, using his own equipment and business-launching know-how helped Jake and Josh get their concept sandwich shop off the ground. Vegans and vegetarians who consider themselves "hard core" may pass on this one due to the other sandwiches they serve in their little box. Be advised.

Thank you for reading.

Where do you eat?

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