Desert Companion
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JULY 2014
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Dealicious Meals

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Editor's Note
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upcoming events
Take 5
July 2, 16 and 30, 8p. Love improv but want to do more than just watch? In this show, the audience is part of the action. $10. The Sci Fi Center,...   
Through Aug. 1; artist reception July 10, 6-8p. A group exhibition by the fine arts students of CSN, featuring new works that make use of a variety...   
Through Aug. 1, Mon-Fri, 9a-4p; Sat, 10a-2p. A solo exhibit of digitally manipulated photographs, video and animation by Kate Shannon, The Ohio...   
"Lewis Avenue"  a poem by Gregory Crosby
by Gregory Crosby | posted April 3, 2014

Lewis Avenue


Everything fades except its representation.
I’m a river of gin flowing in search of a still, sour ocean of tonic.
Someone is asleep on the long shot.
The homeless are secure in their homeland.
I am so far from home that I am home.
Wherever my hat is, is (that’s why I wear it).

Across the way, the Duke in his fur collar breaks the spine of a paperback.
The Patriot beneath his star-spangled bandanna cradles a burning Parliament.
St. Jerome annotates his Bible in between sips from forty days, forty nights.
In stained red sweatpants, the Wandering Jew holds forth his coffee cup, as if in search
of the Wandering Waitress.
Salieri contorts his nut-brown face and conducts his crushed can oratorio.
Virginia Dare draws her knees to her chin, huddled against the chill of sunlight.
In the stone’s throw, the bankrupts sort their failures, vendors setting out their wares.
The parade passes in honor of suits, sack lunches.
Here and there, a silent messenger.

The courthouse is a miracle.

I am down to a sunless sea. I am calm, and out of order.
Yes, and you’re out of order, and you’re out of order.
We’re all out of order.
Who else did they think would sit here when they built it?

Every waiting room is painted robin’s egg blue.
Have you ever seen a robin’s egg?
You’ll have to take my word for it.

It’s the middle of the day.
It’s home.
Here comes the judge.

(Previously published in Unshod Quills;


Valley of Fire
by Alan Gegax | posted February 13, 2014

Desert Companion's 2014 Best of the City issue is out now! Included among the blurbs on the best food, culture, shopping and lifestyle amenities are a few writerly odes to superlative aspects of Las Vegas. In fact, we had so much ode-age, we couldn't fit them all in! Here's a bonus ode to the under-appreciated Valley of Fire -- featuring a cameo by Captain Kirk!

Let the tourists throng west and overrun the paltry pile of Red Rock, for I know where the heart of Southern Nevada truly beats in all its crimson glory. Valley of Fire, your expansive playground of sand and stone, painted not only in rust but cascading hues of purple, yellow and white, calls to me.

You are where I fell in love with the outdoors -- where I fell in love with adventure and exploration -- as a young boy hiking with my dad, climbing through a maze of scarlet monoliths. Now I take others, helping them to bond with you as I did.

I know I was not the first to recognize your charms. Countless petroglyphs, carefully etched into your desert patina, tell tales of bighorn sheep, hunting parties and mystical rituals. As you once sheltered the Southern Paiutes, so you welcome me with some of the finest camping in the desert Southwest. Campsites nestle amid the rocks, while the group sites are isolated enough to let folks make merry while others sleep.

Even the nerd in me has reason to love, because you played host to one of the biggest events in sci-fi history: In Star Trek Generations, Captain Kirk met his end crushed under a bridge at Silica Dome, with views of Lake Mead glistening in the distance. That bridge is still in use, complete with occasional shrines, along the Arrowhead Loop trail.

Let the nation have Red Rock. For me, and for Las Vegas, we’ll take its bigger, redder cousin to the north: Valley of Fire. 


Ode to the Vegas lady
by Lissa Townsend Rodgers | posted January 30, 2014

Desert Companion's 2014 Best of the City issue is on its way! Included among the blurbs on the best food, culture, shopping and lifestyle amenities are a few writerly odes to superlative aspects of Las Vegas. Until the February edition arrives, here's a bonus ode to whet your appetite.

Perhaps your first thoughts when contemplating the women of Las Vegas are of barely 21 tourist babes tugging at their miniskirts and teetering on their platforms. Or the cocktail waitresses of the high-end casinos, with their push-up bras and eternal quest for a pair of comfortable high heels. Or the trophy wives with their whipped-up hair and worked-out glutes. But the most exalted figure in our female pantheon is what the French might call une femme d’un certain age, and whom I have always called The Vegas Lady. Somewhere past 50, probably even 60, but still maintaining her aura of mystery and style, she embodies the mixture of glamour, independence and can-do/gotta-do spirit that it takes for a woman to survive and thrive in Sin City.

She could be sitting in a lounge in North Las Vegas, wearing a tailored jacket and discreetly glittering jewelry, a fedora tipped over one eye, the gloss of her perfectly manicured nails shining in the glow of a straight flush on her video poker screen. Or perhaps she’s walking to a bus stop downtown, a bit of sashay and a hint of spring still in her step, dressed in a snappy leopard-print trenchcoat and Jackie Onassis sunglasses.

But even more than a fabulous outfit, the Vegas Lady has a backstory. That old dame with the blue rinse and bedazzled jogging suit may well have a few tales that will enchant and amaze you. She could be the first lady dealer or the last surviving showgirl, perhaps a made-man’s moll or a senator’s ex-wife — maybe a businesswoman who went from bootlegger to restaurateur, keno runner to casino owner. Next time you see a group of older ladies at the casino coffee shop, clustered over a round of pie and light ’n’ sweet coffees, give them a smile — and slow down as you pass, in case you can catch a story about the days of Frank or Elvis. 




Ode to the Bellagio fountains
by Brock Radke | posted January 29, 2014
Desert Companion's 2014 Best of the City issue is on its way. Included among the blurbs on the best food, culture, shopping and lifestyle amenities are a few writerly odes to superlative aspects of Las Vegas. Until the February edition arrives, here's a bonus ode to whet your appetite.
The only thing that makes the 2001 Clooney-Pitt-Damon remake of Ocean’s Eleven a respectable piece of Vegas art is the post-robbery scene in which all the bandits marvel at the greatness of Bellagio’s dancing fountains. The Debussy strings wash in as Casey Affleck and his homies share looks of peaceful wonder, and, yes, this is actually how it feels to watch these fountains, even if you’re not making out with millions. You’ve been gifted. It doesn’t matter if your relatives have forced you to take them to see this, the top landmark in the country according to Trip Advisor, on each visit for the last 15 years. It’s still an enchanting experience every time, a thunderous and whimsical representation of the healthiest part of the Vegas spirit. The Bellagio fountains offer perspective, an artfully aquatic reminder that no matter how much the Strip struggles and changes, there will always be this very singular, nonsensical beauty. These few glowing miles in the desert are, of course, all about money, but there is plenty of captivating byproduct for us all to admire. The fountains are an irresistible portal, maybe even a tractor beam sucking us into the Death Star of Vegas. They make me want to drop some money at the tables, indulge in an over-the-top dinner and drift into the night with multiple martinis, saturated in swank, celebrating for no reason. I’ve seen this show maybe 75 times, lived here more than 25 years, but it always makes feel like I’m someone else from some other place, just visiting, just having a great time.


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