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36 things for which we’re thankful right now

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Hernan Valencia

Ambitious restaurants like Standard & Pour and Other Mama that fearlessly put out interesting, sometimes cutting-edge food in Vegas suburbs where you’d never expect to eat that way.

The local concert and nightlife promoters who risk losing their asses when they bring lesser-known talent that would otherwise pass us by.

That cannabis will soon be available legally in Nevada, and not just for those with debilitating illnesses.

The no-kill shelters that save the lives of animals formerly at the mercy of terrible humans.

That we have two Chadas to deliciously satisfy two distinct Thai food moods.

The bountiful local parks (especially in the southeast), for offering a moment’s peace in an otherwise clattery city.

That despite the loss of David Bowie, we still have his brilliant discography to comfort us (along with the Bowie emojis we'll soon have on our phones).

Metro’s proactive vigil of and outreach toward the local LGBT and Muslim communities immediately following the mass shooting in Orlando.

Clockwise from front: ahi <em>poke</em> with oyster sauce; the marinated baby octopus known as <em>chuka iidako</em>; and lomi lomi salmon, all at Poke Express.

Clockwise from front: ahi poke with oyster sauce; the marinated baby octopus known as chuka iidako; and lomi lomi salmon, all at Poke Express.

The way the Valley smells after a good hard rain.

That Poke Express opened a store near our office. Best. Poke. Ever.

The phenomenon of the industry-night party inside a club inside a bigger club, represented well by Wild at Heart Tuesday nights at Heart of Omnia. It feels like a house party with all your friends and coworkers and Floyd Mayweather, and then you can take a break to watch tourists in the big room.

Cheeseburger eggrolls at LVB.

The Blue Angel, the patron saint of Las Vegas’ arts community and the lesser-celebrated of Betty Willis’ two great vintage signs. If only there were half as many Blue Angel souvenirs as there are Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas rip-offs.

That there’s a place Downtown where you can drink and shop: ReBar.

That on New Year’s Eve, you could conceivably walk down the Strip and eat Shake Shack, White Castle and In-N-Out in one night.

That there’s at least a career’s worth of unreleased Prince music, and that his surviving family will probably strip-mine his vaults to squeeze all the money out. This isn’t a Jeff Buckley situation, where every posthumous release is like a dagger in the gut; We actually want to hear the stuff Prince never got around to putting out.

Free parking on the Strip for Nevada residents (while it lasts).

The abundance of music festivals based here, increasing the number of music acts that come to our area.

Bonchon fried chicken.

The new visitor center at Mount Charleston. We’re all for the federal government looking after our open land and recreational parks. Our potential nuclear waste storage facilities, not so much.

Shamir

That we finally made the big leagues, NHL style.

That Shamir Bailey came along and made Las Vegas’ music scene look more interesting from the outside. The Killers, Panic! At the Disco and Imagine Dragons have a lot going for them, but they don’t have a gender-fluid black kid with a voice like Nina Simone and a musical palette that ranges from alt-country to Chicago House beats.

Pastramikah at the Double Down. Hot pastrami flown in from New York, just for drunk punks.

Low college tuition rates for locals. Full-time undergraduate residents attending UNLV pay less than $3,000 per semester (comparatively, the University of Utah’s in-state tuition is close to $8,000). Nevada also awards the Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship to local high-school grades with excellent grades.

Bandcamp, which gives Vegas bands an easy mechanism for getting their music out to the world.

The “Downtown Mafia” of bartenders: Seong Ha Lee, Bobby Franks, Jeff Grindley and others. These guys are the best at what they do, but they don’t indulge in that pretentious waxed-mustache, “artisanal cocktail” crap. They just make great drinks, and they make sure you’re happy with them.

That we don’t have to plow snow from our driveway or wait for our cars to heat up in winter.

The Valley’s innovative, outstanding Japanese restaurants, from small-plate treasure Raku to sushi standard-setting Kabuto to fusion favorite Yonaka to the holy trifecta of ramen houses: Monta, Sora and Jinya. Arigato!

The Tru Trigger Point class at TruFusion Yoga blends yoga with the latest exercise trends like TRX.

The Tru Trigger Point class at TruFusion Yoga blends yoga with the latest exercise trends like TRX.

Buffalo Exchange and its rad thrifting selection.

TruFusion, for its wide array of classes at affordable prices. The Vegas-born studio hosts not only pilates and yoga but aerial arts, boxing, cycling, hot barre and even a “Down N Dirty Bootcamp,” complete with twerking.

A highway system with reasonable levels of traffic.

Chris Giunchigliani, whose fight for transparency and bill dissection proves she won’t concede to a bad stadium deal or throw her constituents under the bus.

That Las Vegas now has several great venues expressly designed for live music, including Bunkhouse, Brooklyn Bowl, the Pearl, the Foundry, Park MGM, Sayers Club and the Chelsea. We would have killed for venues like those back in the ’90s. Our fondest memories of seeing shows at the Huntridge usually omit the crappy sound and nonexistent AC.

For all the taco joints on East Charleston.

That Las Vegas is finally behaving like a big city after two decades of uninterrupted growth. Mid-rise apartments, bike share, light rail, Postmates, Uber—this is no-brainer stuff we should have had 10 years ago, when we were still building suburban developments so remote we had to pave another freeway to serve them. Now, even the suburbs—Summerlin, Hendo, the Southwest—are developing their own urban centers with medium-density living. When Phoenix starts kicking our ass on this stuff, it’s time to get busy.

And of course, our readers and social-media followers. We’re nowhere near as cool without you guys.

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