43 things we’re thankful for - Las Vegas Weekly

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43 things we’re thankful for

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DJ Five with some sweet treats from Friendly Donut House
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

Yeah, the world is broken in a lot of ways. Vegas is, too, and we do our share of pointing that out in stories we tell about life in our city. But we're always looking for the bright spots, for reasons to appreciate where we are and who we're sharing the colorful space with.

This issue is special to us, because it gives us room to say thank you for everything we find delicious, hilarious, brave and beautiful.

Here's to whatever makes you give thanks.

1. Shiny new things. Linq, Cromwell, SLS, Delano, Downtown Summerlin. Whether or not these developments meet our lofty expectations, let’s agree it’s awesome to see Las Vegas growing again.

2. Friendly Donut House. Because it’s Friendly. And Donut-y. And only takes cash. And old people hang out there. And old people always know where the best damn doughnuts are.

3. Clark County and its license bureau, for going all in—and so enthusiastically—for same-sex marriage when the state’s constitutional ban was finally overturned in October, and providing timely updates during the legal volleying that preceded it.

UNLV Runnin' Rebels' Christian Wood

4. That Rebel basketball season is finally here (because man, it’s been rough on the football field).

5. The glorious Instagram feed of DJ Five. This dude lies on his floor naked and serene, his bits covered with a tropical hat. He makes Kim Kardashian’s Internet-breaking ass photo into his own personal unicorn horn. He puts a Papa John’s Special Garlic Dipping Sauce in his Keurig and Photoshops himself into everything from a little kid’s skunk costume to a Soul Glo promo shot to Brad Pitt. He finds funny crap (video of a farting deer) and posts it with funny commentary (“When ur on the 1st date and she finally stepped away to touch up her makeup … #Truth”). He’s not afraid to look ridiculous if it makes him and others laugh, which is why he wore a cheap turkey suit and did the Schmoney dance for our cover shoot—and why he has over 15,000 followers. It may be a joke to him, but Five is totally the reason we put our sriracha in a spray bottle.

6. That view from the crest of Summerlin Parkway where the whole Valley unfurls like a magic carpet.

7. Al’s Italian beef, with hot peppers and cheese, dipped. And that there are enough Chicago people in Las Vegas to merit our own location of Al’s Italian beef.

Makers & Finders

8. Makers & Finders. It’s a little early in the game to claim Makers & Finders as my new go-to coffee spot (no, really, they haven’t even fully opened), but I’m doing it anyway. How thankful am I that Downtown finally has a serious coffee shop—one without the pretentious baristas (thanks but no thanks, Seattle)—featuring a lovely, quaint, soul-warming menu of Latin comfort foods (chorizo Brussels sprouts!), decadent lavender-infused lattes and Bolivian pour-over coffee? Really thankful. Makers & Finders is the kind of joint that brings a community together, a Cheers for the daytime crowd, and I’m excited to be a neighbor. —Leslie Ventura

9. The cocktail waitress uniforms at the Cromwell, and the fact that they put on fuzzy little vests when it’s cold.

10. “It’s Harry Truman.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Are you really sure?”

Atomic Liquors’ weekly trivia night just started, and with a $50 bar tab at stake, fact-checking can get pretty serious.

Atomic Liquors

Atomic Liquors

After a midweek beer tasting at the Downtown watering hole, some of my fellow Weekly writers and I decided to stick around for a brew or two—and with some gentle nudging from a trivia-night regular, we joined the mix, dubbing our team the Weekly Funkadelic.

Pub trivia nights have popped up across the Valley in recent years, enriching standard nights out with some educational entertainment and excellent conversation starters. How else could you find out your coworker is a walking Saved by the Bell encyclopedia?

With five rounds of trivia (and three rounds of beers) past us, Weekly Funkadelic takes the win—and the coveted bar tab. And while free beers and bragging rights are nice, playing pub trivia is a lot like playing sports: It’s not whether you win or lose … but winning definitely makes it better. —Mark Adams

11. The adorable old man who walks the trail next to Paseo Verde every day, singing out, “Good morning, beautiful,” to every person he passes.

12. The evening of scintillating conversation between Pulitzer prize-winning writers Stephen Greenblatt and Geraldine Brooks at UNLV’s Philip J. Cohen Theatre this month brought on an everlasting euphoria for fans still waiting for the cloud to land. Thank you, Black Mountain Institute.

13. That there are now two Nordstrom Racks in the Valley. If you need us, we’ll be shopping.

Mercadito

Mercadito

14. The fact that both Pizza Rock and Mercadito will be seconds away from our office in a matter of months. Lunchtime is the best.

15. The opening of the Cactus Road exit at I-15 was life-changing for residents in the Southwest part of the Valley who’d been taking ridiculously circuitous routes to and from home. The soon-to-be opened Cactus overpass will save even more residents from driving wild loops through the neighborhood down partially constructed roads. Let the happy sighing commence.

16. That soon we’ll be (inhale) enjoying the benefits of (hold it) medical marijuana (exhale).

17. Uber isn’t just an ultra-convenient way to get around; it’s also a pretty cool way to get to know your community. For my maiden Uber voyage, it took my driver, Todd, a mere 14 minutes to show up at my home in Anthem Highlands.

Despite making my trip a short one—to the grocery store and back, a grand total of 3.4 miles—Todd had plenty to say about his new job: how it’s a supplement to his primary job as a flight attendant for United Airlines; how his busiest night so far was Halloween, when he drove pretty much all night long; how he’s not in the least bit afraid of being cited $10,000 and having his vehicle impounded by the Nevada Taxicab Authority. There was even an interesting story regarding his orange Kia Soul. Working for Uber gave him the excuse he’d long been looking for to purchase one, as Uber requires all vehicles to be less than 10 years old.

I thought I’d have to call Uber again after completing my shopping, but Todd waited outside for me for 10 minutes. The grand total for my excursion? $15.33. Would I use Uber again? Like you’ve even gotta ask. —Ken Miller

18. Sea urchin on top of blood sausage and all the other bizarre bites at Bazaar Meat.

19. Driving through the southern half of Utah on the way back home to Vegas. Beautiful.

20. The Phoenix, for being that rare gay bar that not only caters to the alternative ends of the LGBT spectrum—to say nothing of throwing down its welcome mat for Burning Man and underground dance music enthusiasts—but carries a variety of beers that relieves patrons of the usual Bud Light-or-Blue Moon dilemma.

Daniel Boulud

Daniel Boulud

21. Daniel Boulud. He’s back on the Strip, praise the lord, mais oui.

22. Downtown hope. Because even as dreams reveal themselves to be more human than we’d like, good things are still happening.

23. The constant expansion of the live music scene. For every massive (and massively entertaining) music festival that now calls Las Vegas home—Life Is Beautiful, Electric Daisy Carnival, Rock in Rio—we’ve got heaps of small-scale bar, club and house shows, packed with quality local and rising touring bands. Our ears are buzzing just thinking about all of it.

24. Fireflies and truffle popcorn at Franklin. A lobby bar that is quietly cooler than all the other kids.

25. Be careful what you wish for. That’s a lesson I’ve learned over the past five years, as the one thing most egregiously missing from our outsize club scene—dance music, and by that I mean legitimate, club-oriented dance music—somehow became the soundtrack of the big Boulevard.

My qualms with Euro bangers and drop-heavy party anthemry aside, I don’t see a nightlife scene thriving or evolving through the dominance of one type of music or DJ performer. Which is why my hardened, EDM-fatigued heart swells for the efforts and supporters of the underground (and underground-ish) electronic music scene, which has righteously exploited our extensive nightlife infrastructure and the cultural shift toward BPMs.

It’s the stalwarts of the off-Strip venues (we househeads now have three weekly house/techno promotions, including the increasingly ambitious Cymatic soirée every Tuesday at longtime groove sanctuary Downtown Cocktail Room), and the subwoofer-worshipping bashes by Frequency/DPG and Ravealation (the latter successfully throwing legit ragers at legit venues for the long-suffering 18+ demo). It’s the Sunday bookings at SLS’ Life luring some of the most sought-after but Vegas-resistant names on the planet, and the go-for-broke efforts by DIY crews like After whose warehouse and desert parties represent a grown-up nod to the roots of rave culture.

The lucrative EDM tide may be ebbing, but Vegas nightlife is thriving. And evolving. —Mike Prevatt

26. That Joseph James’ Citra Rye is finally available in cans. Which means you can drink Las Vegas’ best local beer as nature intended, pajama’d on your couch.

Truck-N-Yaki

27. Satellite Contemporary inside Emergency Arts opened November 15 with a stellar exhibit of contemporary works by national artists Sara Petras, Sean Greene, Bridget O’Brien, Sandy Litchfield and others. Judging by that first show, the gallery, operated by three artists and faculty at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, will inject some fresh quality into the Las Vegas arts scene.

28. Truck-N-Yaki’s Japanese burritos. Yeah, we said Japanese burritos. Order twice as many as you think you’ll need, or risk fighting your family for scraps.

29. LIB murals. So nice to have the spirit of the festival stick, for it to give something to the neighborhood long after the music stops.

30. A far cry from Walden, and barely a reprieve from the sprawl that’s expelled itself all over Las Vegas, the new Mountain’s Edge Regional Park (Clark County’s $8.5 million development on the Southwest edge of the Valley) is still a long-awaited belly rub for those of us locked in nearby subdivisions.

It could be the spectacularly eye-popping equipment installed segmentally for all ages, or the winding gravel nature path serving as an outdoor educational spot of native flora—shared between park visitors and a grateful constable of ravens. Or maybe it’s the whole contemporary kit and caboodle appealing to residents, a suburban-style taming of the natural landscape using funds provided by the BLM sale of public land.

Mountain's Edge Regional Park

Mountain's Edge Regional Park

Longtime locals will recall the days before the ’80s and ’90s when they roamed the desert freely, but riding the Kompan no-resistance elliptical machines and stationary exercise bicycles in the crisp November air is a different kind of kiss from heaven.

The handball court, tennis backboard, soccer net and baseball and football throwing walls are an embarrassment of riches even without the “skill shot basketball wall” that includes hoops at different heights. While the older kids climb the equipment, I use imaginary money to buy an imaginary pizza from an actual 5-year-old who’s working passersby from within the tot-targeted, city-themed area and savor the deliciousness of community gathering spaces. —Kristen Peterson

31. Punksinvegas.com. From its original acoustic sessions to its preservation of seminal sounds, Steven Matview’s little-website-that-could has become a go-to stop on the punk-rock circuit, for music fans inside and beyond its hometown.

El Loco

32. The new El Loco at the Adventuredome, giving Las Vegas its best-ever roller coaster and being there when we need to satiate any random thrill fix.

33. Signature cocktails at Atomic Liquors. So tasty. And so cheap.

34. That Rent the Runway stayed. It was supposed to be a pop-up, only at the Cosmopolitan for a few months. Almost a year later it’s still supplying us with designer-fashion rentals we could never afford to buy—even though the Go-To Girls treat us like we can.

35. That whiskey bars have become trendy enough that every casino feels it needs to have one, which it does.

The Ice Rink at Cosmopolitan

36. The proliferation of ice rinks—real or fake—around town during the holiday season.

37. The Valley’s exploding craft beer selection. Until recently, if you wanted the latest from Stone, Deschutes, Firestone or Lagunitas, you had to head to a few select bars throughout the Valley (mostly on the Strip). But that has all changed. Bars have finally wised up to the fact that we want a little more variety than Bud or Bud Light. It’s not a reach to say you can now satisfy your craft craving at just about any neighborhood bar, and that includes most of the top offerings from local breweries as well. Crazy that it took this long, but hey, we’ll take it.

38. Pickles from Branded Meats & Deli. The service is old-school, and the enormously juicy pickles taste like they’re straight from a Mason jar in Martha Stewart’s cellar.

39. Dogs. Not just our dogs, all dogs.

40. White pizza slices at Five50. FACEGASM.

41. UNLV’s tuba line. Because flautists and trumpeters aren’t nearly as entertaining to watch at football games. P.S.: They’re actually sousaphones! Not tubas!

42. Tourists. We talk a lot of sh*t about them, about their ugly behavior and stupid notions of Vegas and constant clogging of places we would otherwise enjoy. But how sad would it be to go to the Fremont Street Experience and see it empty, to miss the dazed wonderment in visitors’ eyes as they watch the Bellagio fountains for the first time (or as we almost run them over in crosswalks when it’s not their turn). Our city’s crackling energy and mythology are tied to these outsiders and the thrills they feel and the stories they tell. And, to state the obvious: Their money is our lifeblood. Hating on tourists is like being in a band that’s too cool for its own fans. And Las Vegas is Las Vegas because it’s not too cool for anybody. One of the things I savor most about being local is flying into McCarran and listening to rookies talk about Vegas and how excited they are to be up in it. It’s pure joy. —Erin Ryan

43. All of our print readers, website visitors, Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Except for that one guy we had to block for threatening to kill us over horoscope. Aw, what the hell, we’re thankful for him, too.

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