The Las Vegas Cyclery Saves Money the Old Fashioned Way: Innovation

Las Vegas has more green buildings per capita than any city in the United States, with the only close competitor being Washington, D.C., where sustainability minded laws and regulations are more prevalent than anywhere else in the country.LV Cyclery LEED 2013 2

Las Vegas has taken the lead in the realm of private innovation, with the Strip’s Casinos and the all new Downtown taking center stage. Yet, in the face of billion dollar projects and world renowned enterprises, according to LVC tour guide Aaron Barborka, the first net-zero-energy and LEED Platinum Certified building in the country, is the Las Vegas Cyclery (LVC).

No other property in the city, and apparently in the country, has so adhered to the “Triple Bottom Line” philosophy of “People, Planet, Profits,” perhaps even prioritizing profits below the “people and places” aspects.

The Las Vegas Cyclery has tied their success tighter with the environmental mindset than most could imagine. The designers covered their alternative transportation concerns by selecting a location adjacent to a bus stop, prioritizing parking for carpoolers, and sustainable vehicles, even installing an electric-car charging station.

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Pimpin’ Aint Easy, But it Pays the Bills

CocaineBrooklyn is a prostitute who frequents the bars in the downtown scene on a regular basis, always with a different man on her arm. She is young and brunette, speaks with a distinct New York accent and generally has a smile on her face. But she did not feel comfortable giving an interview. She wasn’t sure her man would like it and she wasn’t sure she’d be comfortable being quoted. So she pointed the way to her pimp “Downtown Brown.”

I met Brown at his condo Friday afternoon. Tall, skinny and muscular at age 37, he met me at the door in a pair of slacks, a tank top undershirt and a do-rag on his head. He welcomed me, told me that Brooklyn had said I was nice and he’d be happy to talk to me for a while. On the counter stacks of twenties stand beside a toaster and a pile of cocaine. We sat across from one another at his kitchen table and talked: first, for a few minutes, about my bar and how long I’d been bartending, before moving into my time at UNLV and his time at college at Fresno State.

Brown came from Minneapolis Minnesota and spent some time in Georgia as well. He went to college in Fresno on a basketball scholarship. He was successful and enjoyed it but in school he was injured and did not garner enough attention to get drafted to the NBA. Instead Brown pursued his dream in the less fashionable way, playing briefly in Japan, before joining the Las Vegas Rattlers, now known as the Aces, of the American Basketball Association.

It was a way to live his dream, but the pay was not good and he lived in a city that whose nightlife demanded attention and a better paycheck. Growing up hustling had always been around Brown’s life. His uncle Billy lived down the block and had been pimping as long as he could remember. His cousin across the street was known as the Prince of Darkness.

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Climate Changing Priorities – Editorial

windmill and plantIf you watch the news, it is difficult to identify a single problem facing the United States to name as the most dire, as our around the clock news cycle bombards viewers with crisis after crisis, it seems to be a litany of woes.

Some would say it is the quagmire that is the Affordable Care Act, others would say the Tea Party’s obstructionism or the tragically frequent gun violence in the, while many would argue there is nothing hurting our country more than the ever widening wealth gap. While these concerns certainly carry their fair share of problems, no issue threatens the future of the U.S., and every other nation, more than the connected damages of rampant over consumption and climate change.

The last decade has produced nine of the ten hottest years on record leading to severe droughts that have led to near constant forest fire threats across the southwest, especially in California, dwindling harvests in the heartland and devastated fish populations across the country. Changing weather patterns have led to unprecedented natural disaster damage across the Northeast and a mind boggling stream of storms disrupting travel and commerce on a regular basis.

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Rebel Bingo Brings the Circus to Your Dobber

Rebel BingoBingo is not exactly the hip gaming craze that excites the masses, not the masses under fifty at least. But the traveling circus that is Rebel Bingo is trying to change that by infusing the simple game with crazy prizes, competitive face-offs for prizes, sexed up punked out girls talking dirty and a liberal dose of liquor.

The event, that has previously graced Las Vegan guests at LVH and the Boulevard Pool at the Cosmo, on July 18, held court at the Act nightclub inside the Palazzo Casino. Act makes earns its fame from the side show theatrics that is nightly injects into the standard local nightclub life, thus it seemed like a perfect environment to host this bombastic underworld party of Bingo and debauchery. No one appeared to blink as the costumed wanderer on stilts shimmied through the crowd surrounding the dance floor.

The show started a little late but with much enthusiasm from the MC as he called the crowd to the stage. He introduced his troupe, laid down the rules and the Bingo began. Continue reading

The Best Elvis in Las Vegas

Chad Collins Ultimate Elvis

Las Vegas is a mecca for impersonators and tribute artists. Currently tourists can talented performers from around the country portraying many of their favorite artists, from the Rat Pack and Barbara Streisand to the Bee Gees Britney Spears and Michael Jackson. But no star of song or screen is mimicked as often and with such praise as the King, Elvis Presley.

Las Vegas’s love affair with Elvis has been documented and related through television specials on the man himself as well as in movies galore from the Flying Elvi shown in “Honeymoon in Vegas” to the plethora of impersonators used as the backdrop for “3000 Miles to Graceland.”

On May the 4th Annual Las Vegas Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest was held on Fremont Street in front of thousands of spectators. With twenty contestants performing over two days there were plenty of Elvi representing a number of infamous Elvis looks to choose from.

Over the course of two days these performers sang and shook their hips across the stage for the judges and the applauding crowd. But at the end of the day there was room for only one Elvis to grace the stage as Las Vegas ultimate Elvis impersonator, and that Elvis was Chad Collins.

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Chad currently portrays Elvis at the Little White Wedding Chapel on Las Vegas Boulevard. Although this is his first time performing on stage as Elvis Chad is an old hand at the tribute artist game. He began his career as a performer, impersonating Tim McGraw and made his name performing the character for Legends in Concert throughout the first decade of 2000’s.

As the winner of the Las Vegas leg of the competition The contest serves as a preliminary round for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest which takes place in Memphis during Elvis Week. As the winner of this year’s preliminary round in Las Vegas, Collins will proceed to the semifinals during Elvis Week 2013 in Memphis, Tenn.

Since it was launched in 2013 the Ultimate Elvis contest has become a highlight of  Elvis Week in Memphis, which attracts more than 70,000 fans from across the globe.

Collins will be continuing his gig performing marriages as Elvis on the strip, he will also be seen this month in The Best of Vegas Summer Variety Show, where he will be performing as both Elvis and Tim McGraw in the same show for the first time. He can also be seen singing and playing guitar in his new band Easy 8’s, who recently performed on Fremont Street on the 4th of July.

 

Beat the Heat, Cheap Summer Movies in Vegas

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Las Vegas is Hotter than Hell. Residents of the city may not be surprised to hear this, especially in the midst of this debilitating heat wave that has been encompassing the Southwest the past few weeks. But according to Steven Slivka‘s article for the Las Vegas Review Journal, “Las Vegas’ hottest June ends with a 117-degree high, tying the record,” not only did the final day of June tie the record for the hottest day on record (followed by a night featuring temperatures as high as 111-degrees), but the month set a new record for hottest June in the city’s history.

People have suffered injuries already and the city is reminding people to stay inside, keep water around and stay hydrated. The city is also pushing their plethora of cooling stations, which offer everyone from the families to the homeless a chance to cool off and get wet in the water, as Riley Snyder covers in his article “Cooling Stations Help Those out and about Around the Valley Beat the Heat,” earlier this month in the Las Vegas Sun.

For many people however, even splashing around in the water may not be quite enough to alleviate the soul crushing sun’s rays. Such citizens are in luck as a handful of the valley’s movie theaters are making it easier than ever to hide from the heat for a couple hours at a time.

On the strip AMC theaters at Town Square, formerly Rave, offer $5 movies every weekday before noon as well as normal matinees after.

Most theaters have matinees every weekday where patrons can get tickets for a few dollars off the standard price, but there a couple places where movie goers can get even better values. Regal Cinemas’ locations at Green Valley Ranch and the Colonade on South Eastern both feature $6 Tuesdays for all movies not shown in 3-D or I-Max. The two theaters also offer significant discounts on those special screenings as well.

Across town at the Brendan Theaters inside the Palms Casino, there are variety of deals as customers can enjoy $5 movie Mondays or the 2 for $22 Tuesdays special, which features two tickets, two popcorns and two sodas.

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Of course there is no better value offered on a daily basis than Tropicana Cinemas. Located at the corner of Tropicana and Pecos, the renovated second run theatre shows movies that have recently left most theaters, but have yet to hit DVD on digital big-screens for only $1.50 per a ticket. There patrons get one last chance to catch a flick they may have missed before they are forced to watch on a smaller T.V. screen, or the chance to catch a favorite one more time at a fraction of the price. They even have $1 hot dogs. What more can a moviegoer ask for?

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Hottest Reggae Nightclub in Vegas Lies in the Naked City

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Las Vegas is internationally famous for its bright and bustling Strip. The bright lights and the jumbo screens invite tourists and locals alike inside with the promise of endless parties and sex. Sweaty bodies in their tight shirts and tiny skirts await inside countless cliched nightclubs writhing to tunes spun by DJ’s, some famous across the world and others famous across the city.

Around the city numerous venues have tried for years to establish themselves as competitors in the city’s nightlife market. The vast majority of these places appear with a flash but most are gone as quick as lightening. In his article, “Does Las Vegas Have a Nightclub Bubble?” for Seven Magazine earlier this year, David G. Swartz suggested that such flops could be a problem that soon move from off strip attempts into the heart of Vegas’ nightlife scene itself, on Las Vegas Boulevard.

But not everyone is suffering from such failings. On the edge of the Arts district, just past the Naked City and about halfway between the main Strip and Fremont street, sits the Aruba Hotel. Nestled between two of the city’s most prominent quick hitch wedding chapels and across the street from one of its sleaziest fully nude strip clubs, the Aruba is what now remains of the formerly famous Hotel Thunderbird.

For much of the week the motel is as quiet as the rest of the neighborhood, far from the glitz and glamour of the party city’s hubs. But every Saturday night the Thunderbird Lounge and Club Aruba come alive as DJ Handgun spins the beats for the most continuously successful reggae event the city has seen over the last decade. According to Catherine Nguen, the event, Positive Vibrations’, head promoter, the weekly dance hall party consistently sees between four and five hundred patrons on a weekly basis, with a line frequently out the door.

“I’ve been playing reggae for twenty years,” says DJ Handgun, “I’ve been here at the Aruba Hotel since 2005 and weekly since 2006. Playing dancehall, roots and soca.” When asked how he has been able to keep his event so successful week after week, in an out of the way venue his answer was simple. “Me and my partner, DJ Charlo, we play the best music, we have the best vibes,” he answers. “It’s good people and good times, we draw them in from California, the Caribbean and even Africa … they keep coming back because we play what they are here to hear. No one else does.”

You can hear electronic dance music on almost any block almost anywhere you find crowds in Las Vegas. If you want to hear Reggae, you go the Aruba Hotel.

 

Downtown Las Vegas Exciting the City

Portal to Fremont East

On a Tuesday night on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas you see people about in droves. Young men and women bounce from bar to bar, drinking and frolicking until two or three in the morning. Ten years ago this was not the case.

Downtown Las Vegas was not always so friendly. A few decades ago the older casinos in the area were in bad shape, unable to compete with the draw of the sleeker, prettier resort casinos that line the strip further south. Fremont Street was known for rundown businesses, prostitutes and crime. You certainly would not find many people hanging out on East Fremont after midnight that did not have to be there.

Things began to improve in 1995 as 10 casinos lining the five blocks west of Las Vegas Boulevard teamed up to put the light show’s canopy over the street and turned the paved road into a walkway. Ever since the Hotels in the area that used to be known as Glitter Gultch have seen business return far stronger. A few years ago, that renaissance had not yet made its way across the street.

Fremont Street Experience

At the turn of the Century Oscar Goodman became mayor of Las Vegas and the revitalization of downtown and East Fremont was one of his dearest pet projects. Under his direction money and business was brought back to the city’s heart. New restaurants, bars and shops have returned to the area, at first slowly and recently in a flood.

Now it seems all of the hippest establishments are opening within a mile or so from the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street.

Zappos has made it the home of their corporate office and has brought their relaxed, to cool attitude with them, including the renovated Gold Spike which has forgone traditional Las Vegas style gaming machines for oversize darts, pool tables and board games to go with their bar.

The Smith Center has brought a home for high-brow performances and touring plays and musicals. The Cleveland Center for Brain Health has made a home only a few blocks away.Commonwealth: Hip Central

East Fremont Street is now an entirely different world. The Beauty Bar may have led the way for hipster bars downtown, but the street is now lined with such places. The Park, Radio City Pizza, Vanguard, Commonwealth and La Comida are all places that have popped up in the last year.

They are also the places to be now, if one is not in love with the loud crowded nightclubs that run the Strip that is.

Las Vegas’ Naked City in Need of a Rebound

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Fences line the houses and iron bars protect the windows block after block in the “Naked City,” one area of Las Vegas that failed to benefit from the economic boom of the past four decades.

Downtown Las Vegas has seen a renaissance over the last decade with an influx of big money and support from local government. While Main Street and East Fremont Street have seen new businesses pop up at every turn, one area that has not been so blessed has been the infamous “Naked City.”

The “Naked City” is the name that has long been associated with the area in the heart of Las Vegas that is located just west of Las Vegas Boulevard between the Strip and downtown. Bordered by Sahara on the south, Wyoming on the north, Industrial on the west and Las Vegas Boulevard along the east, the area has long been a home to crime and the destitute.

Naked City home

Rumors abound as to how the area earned its name. According to Cindy, from the Hard Hat Lounge, the most popular explanation is that in the 60’s the area was much nicer and local showgirls and cocktails waitresses, who often lived in the area, and were famous for sunbathing naked.

Block after block homes stand dilapidated and abandoned. For sale and for rent signs hang in succession, street after street. There are almost no businesses within the boundaries, save a plumbing shop, and air conditioning repair shop and a few maintenance equipment stores, though there are a trio of 7-11’s at its edges.

The areas reputation amongst locals and tourists speaks of prostitutes, drug dealers, and violence. According to workers at establishments lining the area, the stories may be a bit overblown.

“I’ve been behind the bar here for six years and have never had any trouble,” said Cindy, a bartender of six years at the Hard Hat Lounge on Industrial. “We get good people. Mostly a blue collar workers, cab drivers from Whittlesea cab drivers.”

At the corner of Oakey and Las Vegas Boulevard stands the former site of White Cross drugs, currently closed and under renovations, and the current site of Tiffany’s Café. Tiffany’s has been a Las Vegas mainstay since the 1960’s serving industry workers, showgirls and lounge stars, of whom many still have pictures lining the walls.

White Cross

White Cross is planning to make a comeback, seeing a niche in the market for downtown shoppers. “They’re reopening in two weeks, on March 15, as White Cross Market, people need a local grocery store,” says Louis, the line cook inside Tiffany’s. “They’ll have to wait six months to get the license for the drug store,” he added.

Many of the houses inside the “Naked City” feature ornate murals, there is no crime or women of the night walking the street at 10:30 p.m. at night on a Wednesday. The local culinary union house is within the areas limits, as is the Stupak Community Center and the new Gateway Art Gallery.

The area has missed out on much of the growth and cultural rebirth that has blessed the rest of downtown Las Vegas, but the future seems brighter than rumor would imply.

East Fremont and the Arts District have helped the entire section of town to blossom, all the way up to Wyoming across the street from the “Naked City” itself. A little prosperity is so close they can taste it, and the inhabitants of the “Naked City” are waiting.