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Desert Companion

24 Hours: Noon, July 31 to noon, August 1


24 Hours in Las Vegas
Brent Holmes

It’s an enjoyably daunting two-part challenge: One, how many facets of this valley can we capture in one 24-hour period? And, two, in how many vividly diverse ways? To that end, we dispatched writers, photographers, artists and even a poet to a different location every hour. What they  brought back aggregates into a kaleidoscopic, 24-part look at the people, behaviors, public and private spaces and narratives large and small that make our city such a dynamic place.




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24 Hours Noon
Sabin Orr



12:04 p.m.

It’s lunch hour in the employee dining room at the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa. Here’s what three workers are eating today.


Marcelo Solorzano JR., engineer

Taco meat, quesadillas, chicken, clam chowder

Friday is taco day. Usually I keep away from the carbohydrates, but today it seemed like I should have carbohydrates. I had the taco meat, put some sour cream on there, and two quesadillas, and the clam chowder, and a piece of chicken.

But I gotta have the clam chowder every Friday. I don’t eat it anywhere but here. It has a good taste to it. Well, this one does. It depends on the cook. But I don’t really know where it comes from.

But it’s great that they offer anything you want. I am kind of on a diet, but I  didn’t eat as much today that’s bad, that my wife won’t get mad at me about. I’m a big guy, and I don’t need to get any bigger.

Ryan Larsen, security bike officer

Chicken breast, steamed broccoli and a banana

I have the same meal every day. Steamed broccoli is a good source of carbohydrates and protein. A cup usually has about 92 calories, 6 grams of protein. The chicken breast is lean meat. A cup is about 42 grams of  protein. It’s about 292 calories — good calories.

It comes down to discipline and the sport I’m competing in, mixed martial arts. I try to think of the results I’m going to get sticking to this regimen. My stomach, oh yeah, it wants everything, and I’m so hungry sometimes. At the same time, I’m working really hard for the end results. The chicken and broccoli is just another step closer to my goal.

Natasha Dennis, assistant housekeeper

Nachos and quesadilla Nachos, that’s my go-to.

If there’s nothing that I’m feeling, that’s usually my goto. If I’m feeling a salad, then I’ll get a salad. Today I was feeling more carbs.

Their eggrolls are really good. I’m pretty sure they’re just, like, frozen, but they’re really good. I was like, I hope it’s not eggrolls today because I’ll  probably just get a whole bowl of them!

I had a bowl for the nachos and a  plate for the quesadillas because when I first went through, I was thinking I’d get some pico de gallo, some sour cream and get all fancy with my  quesadilla, but then I was like, no, I’m hungry, screw that.

— Photos and interviews by Sabin Orr


24 Hours

1 p.m.


1:02 pm // Las Ventanas retirement community, Summerlin.

Friday fitness hour with instructor Rich George

3 sets of 12 squats with balance pole
3 sets of 15 leg lifts with balance pole
3 sets of 15-second heel-to-toe balance stances with balance pole
5 sets of 10 dumbbell curls
5 sets of 10 hammer curls

5 seated dumbbell
“boxing” exercises:
n 3 sets of 10 jabs
n 3 sets of 10 hooks
n 3 sets of 10 uppercuts
n 3 sets of 10 side-to-sides
n 3 sets of 10 crunches

4 sets of 10 standing kicks
6 sets of 15-second
balance lunges
20 sitting toe-taps
20 sitting heel kicks, slow
20 sitting heel kicks, fast
3 sets of 30 sitting “tick tocks” with dumbbells
4 arm stretches
2 leg stretches
1 chest stretch

— Text and image by Andrew Kiraly


Palms Casino Resort
Lucky Wenzel

2 p.m.


2-3 pm // Ditch Friday,
Palms Casino Resort


3pm Chapel of Love
Christopher Smith

3 p.m.


3-4 pm // Vegas Weddings

At the indoor garden chapel of Vegas Weddings, Terry Eveland waits to be given in marriage by her father-in-law Richard Gatewood Sr.

Party 1
First Name: Richard
Last Name: Gatewood
Current Resident City: Bakersfield, CA
Gender: Male
Witnesses: Mom, Penny, and dad, Richard Sr.
Motivation: “It’s the right thing to do.”

Party 2
First Name: Terry
Last Name: Eveland
Current Resident City: Taft, CA
Gender: Female
By her side: 2-year-old son, Wyatt
Why Vegas? “We’ve been married before, and we’ve never been to Vegas.”


It’s a sticky 105 degrees on the sidewalk of South Third Street between Lewis and Clark avenues, but the tall courthouse building that holds the county marriage bureau casts welcome shade on Charles Armstrong. The wedding promoter sits on a bench bird-dogging the corner where taxis drop off couples applying for licenses. He’ll try to get to them before one of his competitors.

“Do you have a chapel picked out?” he’ll ask, and, if they say no, “Do you know what kind of ceremony you’d like?”

If he can get to this question before the couple brushes him off and heads inside, it’s a cinch for his employer, Vegas Weddings, which offers just about every kind of ceremony imaginable within walking distance, right here on Third. At its newest location, down on Bonneville, there’s an upscale chapel, reception space and drive-through. A half-block north, there’s the so-called Marriage Commission, where 50 bucks and a half-hour gets you a civil ceremony. In the same building are Downtown Tux & Gown rental shop and a full-service photography office, where Vegas Weddings turns the bulk of its profit, according to marketing director Ann Parsons. And just past the marriage bureau is the original chapel location, or “indoor garden,” as Parsons calls it, where Richard Gatewood paces in a waiting room, chit-chatting with his parents.

Down the hall, Gatewood’s bride-to-be sits cool as a cucumber at a vanity table in the bridal suite. On the table, nothing but her bouquet. She’s made-up, coiffed, dressed and ready to go — all the more beautiful for her composure. The family drove up Thursday night, and Vegas Weddings took care of all the details, soup to nuts.

Her only worry? “Making sure my family got here on time.”

They did. Vegas Weddings receptionist Priscilla Goldberg ushered the group — along with the groom — into the small chapel room, whose trellises and silk vines are meant to evoke an English garden. Then Eveland was allowed to come out of hiding, take her father-in-law’s arm and walk up the aisle: 4 p.m., right on time.

Back out on Third Street, Armstrong is finishing his shift. How many bookings today? Only four. A good day is seven or eight, for which he gets commission on top of his hourly wage.

“Weddings are down lately,” he says. But there’s always tomorrow. Vegas Weddings is open seven days a week, ’til midnight on weekends.

— Heidi Kyser


4 PM - Thermal Breakdown

4 p.m.


4-5 pm // Sunset Park

102    Degrees Fahrenheit of official temperature
172    Degrees Fahrenheit actually
   4    Picnics taking place anyway in various shady ramadas
 24    Kids splashing in the new splash-pad playground
 10    Adults monitoring the splash-pad playground
 80   Percent of those adults getting a little wet, too
   7    Pre-teens too awesome to play in water features; sitting on wall sweating
      Number of lit cigarettes it takes to ruin the fresh air around the water playground
     Number of stern adults it takes to get teen to extinguish cigarette
   2   Height, in inches, of the well-groomed, green lawn in the sprawling 185-acre park
   4   People sleeping on blankets under trees
   7   Pigeons cornering black-and-white Chihuahua tied under tree by sleeping owner
   1    Passersby it takes to shoo pigeons away
 12    Bike riders who cross the park in the hour
  0    People running on the dirt exercise track
   1    Dedicated Frisbee golfers playing  nine holes  
   2:  Little boys fighting over a swing in a mid-park playground
   5   Swings available right there
   3   Languages heard spoken within an hour: English, Spanish, Arabic
100s  Fish in the murky pond
   0   Fish the only fisherman has caught yet
 40   Approximate number of ducks seen on and around pond
 60   Percent increase in park tranquility added by ducks gliding on pond
   5   Ducks chasing little girl in pink dress
   0   Percent fear in little girl, who chased them back to the water
   1    Mother doing yoga on grass, unfazed by duck fight, namaste
 28   Fluid ounces of Gatorade consumed by this writer while walking the park for one hour

— Stacy J. Willis


5pm What am I thinking now
Scott Dickensheets

5 p.m.


5:24 pm // Stuck in traffic, Spaghetti Bowl


The Estes family
Lucky Wenzel



6:18 pm // After-work backyard pool party

The Estes family marks the end of the work week by firing up the grill and inviting the neighbors over to splash around.


7pm - 24 hours

7 p.m.


7-8 pm // Italian American Club

6:59 I pass the two concrete sentinels guarding the front door of the Italian-American Social Club (“Social” is on the sign outside but is no longer used, at least on the restaurant side). I introduce myself to the managers, Jimmy and Benny, as a freelance writer with Desert Companion. They have never heard of Desert Companion. I explain the KNPR connection. They ask if I am doing a radio show. I grab a seat at the bar.

7:05 I order a Manhattan and take a slow look around. The customer base is well-dressed, skewing towards 60 and up, apparently well-heeled. They’re here for the food, they’re here for the music, they’re here because this is their regular haunt.

7:07 Drummer Michael Tramontana and pianist Michael Shane open with some jazzy mood music. I peruse the dinner specials.

7:11 Craig Canter, one of the club’s regular crooners, opens with “The Look of Love,” a great Bacharach-David song. He flirts with the attractive blonde with very big hair at the bar, two seats to my left.

7:15 I order the aglio y oglio, pasta with anchovies, pine nuts and lots and lots of garlic.

7:19 Wow. Order up, with bread. Craig and the band are working through a swinged-up trio of Beatles songs.

7:25 I note the arty photos of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

7:30 Craig does a musical impersonation of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.

7:35 Another attractive woman with even bigger blond hair joins her friend at the bar.

7:43 Craig does a Jerry Lewis impersonation.

7:50 I’ve reached carbohydrate overload. No tiramisu for dessert.

7:55 Craig and the band launch their version of “Wichita Lineman,” which may be the most perfect pop song ever written. After the song, the trio takes a break. I tell Craig I appreciated “Lineman,” and that I briefly considered running on stage to fill in the song’s “deetdeedeetdeedeedeetdeedeetdeet” telegraph parts. I decided not to, however, as it might interrupt the performance. Craig agrees that might have been a distraction.

8:00 The end of the hour in the High Church of Dino in Las Vegas, the Friday night Shabbat of the Synagogue of Sinatra. I thank Jimmy and Benny and make my way out, pausing to salute the Italian flag on the pole over the parking lot.

— Launce Rake


24 Hours

8 p.m.


8-9 pm // Danzig show at Brooklyn Bowl


At 8 p.m., a witching hour spread its moody cloak over the Strip. A blue moon slowly rose behind a thick gauze of monsoon clouds. It was a bit like Halloween in July: The legendary metal horror show known as Danzig was in town. Droves of fans lined up for frontman Glenn Danzig’s phantasmagorical croons and soul-shaking screams.

Droves, indeed. A buddy and I spent a half-hour in line waiting to get in, and it was a little surprising to get wanded and frisked, too. That doesn’t happen at the sedate indie-rock shows I usually attend. It looked like a full house. Another pal joked “the room is full of angry white men.” I certainly wouldn’t describe it as a multicultural event.

Nevertheless, the audience seemed pretty mellow as the opening act — hardcore punk rockers Pennywise — started to thrash. There were, of course, a few super-wasted reelers and pre-puke stumblers who bumped across the main floor now and then. Including the joker who cut in front of me in the beer line and then tried to bait me with a one-sided staring contest. If you’re that thirsty, bro, step right up ... it’s all yours!

Everyone was singing along in perfect harmony with Pennywise’s anthemic lyrics as 9 p.m. chimed in. I’d show you pictures, but there was a strict no-camera, “click and get bounced” rule. So not 2015.

Oh, since this is metal, I’m going to break the time constraints and tell you that sometime after 11, Danzig performed a fun cover of Elvis Presley’s “Let Yourself Go.” Viva, Glenn, viva.

— Grëg Thïlmønt


 Flamingo and the Strip
Gary Mar

9 p.m.


9-9:40 pm // Flamingo and the Strip


Wetlands Park
Hernan Valencia

10 p.m.


10-11 pm // Wetlands Park


Fremont Street, heading east
Brent Holmes

11 p.m.


11 pm-midnight // Fremont Street, heading east


11 Here we are all in one place — thousands of us, bobbing in the hot broth of a July night as the Fremont Street canopy flares to life. Instantly, the action shifts upward, the freak show on the ground slowing for the light show above; the plastic-bucket percussionists, the nearly naked photo girls, the painted human statues, even the Darth Vaders, all power down a bit as the speakers begin thundering “Livin’ on a Prayer” and a thousand cell cams rise devotionally.

11:05 “Can you be a little more generous?” grumps the woman wearing a cowboy hat and not much else. The Experience tonight is like a best-practices seminar in cultivating an urban id: a teeming, disorienting zone swirling with noises, smells, culture clashes, gawkers, hawkers and exotic megafauna galore: Contortion dancer! Dwarf Mr. T! Costumed and uncostumed characters who’ll pose in your selfie for tips! What, I wonder, should we make of all this? Cosplay capitalism invigorating the social commons? An existential tox-screen of the lowerish middle class? A useful pressure-relief nozzle for a society convulsed by issues of identity, direction and Trump? Or ... maybe I should give up thinking of this as a lens, and just grok the scene. So I want to ask Ms. Cowboy Hat how business is doing, and figure I should pay for her time. But when I tip my last $2 for 15 seconds of posing — which I thought sounded good on the open market of commodified semi-nudity — she exposes me as a cheapskate. Still, I persevere. Uh, how’s business tonight? “Pretty good,” she sighs, turning away while hundreds of adult humans around us bellow, “ooh, livin’ on a prayer …”

11:08 “Oh, I make pennies in Vegas compared to Brooklyn or L.A.,” says Jesus, a drummer who performs on plastic buckets, for tips, despite malformed arms, essentially small hands emerging from his torso. Standing there, shirtless and sheened in perspiration, Jesus is philosophical about the penny-pinching Downtown crowd. “If you can’t pay, come talk to me — pay me with a hug!” He’s less sanguine about rules proposed by the city to tame this cultural DMZ by confining buskers to specific spots and times. “They’re trying to run us off,” he says. “I’m going to register, but if I can’t get a space, I guess I’ll go back to Brooklyn.”

11:24 Crossing Las Vegas Boulevard. Definite energy drop-off. People loiter between the boulevard and Sixth; farther from the throbbing chakras of FSE, surprisingly few for a Friday night. Maybe a half-dozen wait for the Container Park’s mantis to exhale fire.

11:43 Overheard amid a bro-pack near the shuttered Western Hotel: “... but it smells like Vegas, and that’s all I want.”

11:44 Passing Tony Hsieh’s Airstream park. What’s that aroma drifting over the wall — campfire smoke?! Even in this bikram swelter, someone in there believes it’s necessary to stoke the hipster-campout vibe? Nearby, the ghost of the recently deceased Bunkhouse mopes unconsolably.

11:55 Now in a grittier, less surreal stretch of the urban id, we hold the door for a graybeard tottering into Family Foods Market. “I walk slower than you,” he jokes. Maybe not, old-timer; by now I’m moving like a snail — slowly, leaving a trail. Inside, I hit the ATM and get in line to buy bottled water. Ahead, the old guy’s purchase rings up to two bucks and change. “You go ahead,” he tells us, smiling. He needs to work out some time-consuming boozer’s math, X nickels + X dimes + X pennies = two cans of swill, long-divided by the years, multiplied by need. Here’s a guy livin’ on a prayer. So I answer it. From my change, I set three dollar bills on his coin pile: This is for you. Karmic balance restored, Cowboy Hat Lady! Anyway, I guess I’m with Sinatra — whatever gets you through, whether it’s busking your ass for tips, a campfire’s fragrance of community or just a few glugs of beer. Old fella rears up in happy surprise, and this time my generosity’s not in question. “Thanks!” he blurts. “If I ever see you again, I’ll buy you anything you want!” You know what? I believe he would.

— Scott Dickensheets


Midnight at the Double Down Saloon
Jared Africa




Omnia nightclub, Caesars Palace

1 a.m.


1-2 am // Omnia nightclub, Caesars Palace


At the hands of resident DJ Jeff Retro I am directed to “Eat. Sleep. Rave. Repeat.” To boil existence down to a cycle of just three actions seems about right, considering my circumstances. I am captivated — well, captive: feet planted firmly at the center of the dance floor, torso swaying, not to Calvin Harris’ remix but in the wake of each partier who squeeeeeezes through the scrum to get a drink or find the restrooms — a vicious, perpetuating cycle, that.

Standing beneath the club’s kinetic chandelier, my fellow swayers and I hold our ground, awaiting the changing of the guard. Opener Retro should give way to headliner Nicky Romero right about now. It’s so loud my nose hairs vibrate. So loud the bass sucks the air out of my lungs and pushes it back in, a kind of thrilling dance-floor CPR. It’s a scene that has to have been inspired by the one in Independence Day when the alien-welcome party on the roof gets annihilated by the space ship above. Every moment beneath the chandelier is like that. I take an elbow to the clavicle, a breast, but still we stand, necks craned to see what will come next out of the bum of the 20,000-pound chandelier writhing above us.

“We’re on Ecstasy!” a young Asian man screeches, the extent of our introduction. “And we’re from Chicago!” I nod. I can’t see this world through his eyes anymore; after 15 years of this, I know too much. But I can imagine that to him, this is Oz, he’s made it into the Emerald City and above us is the Wizard.

Reporting for duty tonight in addition to myself and Chicago are a predictable mishmash of archetypes: the Bros, the Bachelorettes, the Midwesterners, the Asian tourists and a handful of locals dragged from their Netflix by one of the aforementioned creeds.

Finally something happens. Two dangling aerialists begin flipping … faster … faster … as the air again gets bass-sucked from my lungs. The chandelier plummets to within feet of our heads, spraying cryo fog, water and confetti. Tarred and colorfully feathered, we finally hear from Romero: “Hello. I’m Nicky Romero.” The crowd goes wild. A 250-pound ’roid rage in a tank top slams into me so hard I skid three feet. As Romero drops the beat, this man hurls himself in concentric circles to clear space for the clearly spaced-out woman he wears like a lobster bib. Wide berth secured, he rocks her gently and not even remotely in time with the music.

They continue to work on me, these strong men, and even some waify women with sharp nails. Like a river to stone; where there is weakness, they make gains. But when they come upon something more stubborn than themselves, they take a new direction. Canyons were carved this way, as is the path to the ladies room. The floor crunches with discarded drink glasses.

“When I die,” Chicago says, “this is how I want to go! Wouldn’t that be amazing?” I was truly not prepared to discuss topics of such gravity. “Right?!” I shout, nodding in approval of his EDM-scored death fantasy.

At 2 a.m., I use the bodies of two security guards as fulcrums to extricate myself just as Haley Williams sings: “Are you gonna stay the night?” Sorry, lady, an hour was plenty.

— Xania Woodman


UMC Adult Emergency Waiting Room

2 a.m.


2-3 am // UMC Adult Emergency Waiting Room


A middle-aged woman holds back tears as she paces by the automatic doors outside of the Emergency Room. A portly man with a limp barrels out, coughing through a sanitary mask. “Oh man, it hurts,” he says, as he grasps his chest. He pulls the mask down, takes a few raspy breaths of warm night air and turns to head back inside.

Four other people are waiting at 2:04 a.m., and yet, as a nurse calls someone in, she apologizes for the wait. There are more than 40 empty wooden chairs. One of two TVs plays Entertainment Tonight. What’s entertaining the people in UMC’s ER tonight? A feature about actress Valerie Harper’s struggle with cancer. “Valerie Harper in Crisis!” the cheery announcer says over a high-def image of a sickly Valerie Harper.

A little boy, maybe 11, shakes his head. He’s wearing pink fuzzy earphones around his neck, and he’s there with an ailing, frail man in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank strapped to its back. Each time the man gets wheeled back, the boy silently goes with him. His high-tops squeak on the gray tile floor like it’s a basketball court. Each time they come back, the boy sits down, fiddles with his earphones, but never puts them on.

People trickle in: A bone-thin elderly woman in a huge, floppy hat is wheeled in by paramedics who talk to her in gentle, hushed tones, then leave her facing the TV, where Inside Edition bounces excitedly between Valerie Harper’s cancer and Bobbi Kristina Brown’s death. The coughing man coughs, wheezes, groans.

So often, UMC ER’s overcrowding has been the subject of political debate. Thankfully, in this hour it is not so chaotic, and the staff handles the intake efficiently. But when sparseness replaces chaos, the gravity of bad things is perhaps louder, and a quiet loneliness pervades the room. A middle-aged woman comes out of the exam area holding a vomit bag and sits down to wait; a man carries his own IV bag back to a wooden chair to wait. The old woman slowly reaches up to remove her floppy hat, revealing long gray hair. She covers her drawn face in her hands, and stays that way.

At 2:45 a.m., back outside, a young woman in shorts and a tank top sits on the cement barrier by the pick-up lane, waiting for a ride. She’s still covered in round, white electrode stickers from her EKG. They’re on her chest, arms and legs. She reads through her discharge papers in the quiet night. She doesn’t want to talk about it. At 3:01 a.m., she’s still there, now lying down atop the cement block, curled up in the fetal position, clutching her papers under chin, eyes closed, white electrodes glowing in the night, still waiting.

— Stacy J. Willis


Denny’s on Losee Road

3 a.m.


3-4 am // Denny’s on Losee Road


At 3 AM

is it early or late?

13 in this N. Las Vegas Denny’s,

two cops, empty high chairs,

bits of pancake on the grimy rug

Where fit-fare’s a loose promise

evident in the dull smiles

of the night shift,

and cops stiffen as I approach

I avoid the pungent stir fry

and butter my pancakes,

chug Coke from the iconic plastic glass;

swayed by ceiling tinsel

left over from Christmas,

while a kid eyes the hooked toy grabber,

set to drop mom’s quarters

and snatch some joy

I lean against the paint-worn sills,

on an inside booth,

and find solace in the unremarkable.

My balding friend orders

Bourbon Chicken Skillet,

a chubby couple talks calling it a night,

the Motown pleads, “Don’t Hang Up”

while the couple decides if it’s

too early, or too late

Across from us, a long haul trucker

downs his last cup of joe

to wake himself for St. George or Salt Lake

For me, my placemat touts a movie,

says, “Every hero has a weakness”

as the trucker eyes the waitress,

a leggy, country redhead—

then thinks of his kids,

his Midwest wife,

and counts the highway miles.

Soon he rises to the rush hour dawn

like the couple, the cops, and me, too

And then there were 6.

— Poem by Lee Mallory


Walmart, Tropicana

4 a.m.


4-5 am // Walmart, Tropicana


Sodium streetlight dark. Ambulances wail — and somewhere a car alarm goes hormonal. Metro officer smoking out front takes no notice.

Inside, BIG sign: Together, we are reinventing retail and making a difference for millions. “You should see it when it rains — or when the welfare checks get cashed.”

Pallet loaders everywhere, night-fill in full swing. Employee to shopper ratio? Ten to one. Morale surprisingly high — maybe because everyone has a walkie-talkie. I ask an African-American gal if she minds working graveyard. “You hear any screaming kids?” A bar-code scanner drops.

So, who’s shopping at this witching hour? A large and in-charge tattooed goth, with a cigarette-thin boyfriend, like an impulse-buy accessory … a Latino father and son, proudly flaunting the socks and sandals protocol … and a black giant still in his MGM security uniform, looking like a sleepwalking WWF action figure.

Checkout. Acne-scarred hombre at the register with a distinct Sonoran accent and character-actor-rich Mexican-Indian features. He gives me a big smile — a fine effort, given that his left eye is covered in surgical gauze.

“Robbed?” I ask.

“Just grab-and-runs. But last week a tweaker punched me for carding him. See a lot in this job. You know Tigger?”

“Like in Winnie-the-Pooh?”

“One winter night, this homeless comes up in a rotten Tigger costume. Stank.”


“What was sad was that he had this greasy handful of change and was trying to buy deodorant! Still had pride, man. Probably found the suit in a dumpster — only wearing it ’cause it was so cold. I let him slide. Get an Egg McMuffin.”

“What brand did he choose?”

“Old Spice.”

“Hope the eye heals.”

Out in the parking lot shadows, a skinny woman struggles with a bloated sack of cat food. I’d go help, but I’m afraid I’ll frighten her. Pulling out, my headlights hit the bars of a shopping cart cut loose from the herd. Car alarm still honking. Maybe mating season.

— Kris Saknussemm


Bonneville Transit Center, downtown
Christopher Smith

5 a.m.


5-6 am // Bonneville Transit Center, downtown


Red Rock National Conservation Area
Heidi Kyser

6 a.m.


6-7 am // Red Rock National Conservation Area


This 6 a.m. version of my friends (left to right) Deb Meinberg, Tammy Pitts, Heather King and me (second from left) is fresh and ready to tackle Kraft Mountain in Calico Basin. We’re happily ignorant that one fateful decision — “Let’s scramble up the front rather than taking the trail around the back. It’ll be faster and more fun!” — will land us back here an hour and a half later than expected, exhausted, scratched up by desert brush and grateful to be back on horizontal ground. Adventure!

—  Heidi Kyser


Dotty’s, Charleston and Bruce
Andrew Kiraly

7 a.m.


7:17 am // Dotty’s, Charleston and Bruce


Door jangles open. Damp, tenuous aquarium light and murmurs of greeting, assent, resignation. Slow funk jam seeping through the speakers, the methodical taptaptap of fingers on machines. Beneath, the human silence is stubborn and hard, an old yellow fingernail. Timeless unSaturday morning.


Shake it up, shake it down

Move it in, move it round, disco lady ...


(Please insert your card! PLAY 100 CREDITS)


78 credits. Man in paint-sprayed coveralls smoking meditatively, staring at an invisible horizon. Two old women on robo-carts grooming wins and losses at glowing screens.


Well, hey, sexy lady

Said I like the way you do your thang

Lord have mercy, girl

You dance so fine and you’re right on time ...


45 credits. Door startles open with its choked bells. Shadows in passage, silhouettes: Woman in black dress, black patent heels, pushing a walker. Man with a backpack bounding in, searching the room, restless, before a machine seizes his attention, draws him to it like a magnet.


You’ve got me groovin’

I feel like movin’

You’ve got me movin’

Can’t sit still, I’m groovin’ ...


18 credits. One of the old women has rolled to the door to talk to a man. “You can’t take me to the bank?”


Shake it up, shake it down

Move it in, move it ’round, disco lady ...


4 credits. He considers her robo-cart, the complications of accommodation, movement and travel. Shakes his head and sips from a power-drink bottle to muffle his answer.


You got me hypnotized, so mesmerized ...


0 credits. He tugs the door open and she rolls out alone, passing the window with its plastic plants, kitschy vases and dolls, languidly rolling with the current of the littered strip mall sidewalk.


Move it in, move it out,

Shove it in ’round about, disco lady ...




— Andrew Kiraly


Star Nursery, Eastern Avenue
by Aaron Mayes

8 a.m.


8-9 am // Star Nursery, Eastern Avenue

Day laborers Oscar Ortiz and, behind him, Joseph Dominguez, await work opportunities — which, on this quiet morning, are slow to materialize.


 Salvation Army, Owens Avenue
Andrew Kiraly

9 a.m.


9:40 am // Salvation Army, Owens Avenue


John Mears got up at three this morning. Had his coffee, read from the Book of Joshua in the Bible, read pages 86-88 of  the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous (“Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? ... Were we kind and loving toward all?”), meditated in prayer and ate breakfast. On this Saturday morning, he’s “bebopping around,” the 53-year-old Navy veteran says. In other words, trying to stay busy — chit-chatting with Salvation Army staff, running errands, doing laundry. Staying busy is important. Staying busy keeps his mind off vodka. Staying busy keeps him on the steps. “They say I’m always on the move, that I’ve got to slow my mind down.” He entered the Salvation Army’s Community Integration Program in April (his second time), a VA-funded initiative to help military vets beat alcoholism. “I’m really good at getting my ducks in a row really fast. But then the train always falls off the track.” He used to work construction — he talks with pride about the boom-era projects he worked on — but his last gig before the bottle got in the way again was being the guy on road projects who holds the SLOW sign.

But things are looking up: supportive family, clean since April. He’s not taking a chance with his second chance. Next week, he heads to an inpatient rehabilitation program in La Jolla. “I balked at it at first — it’s a hospital program. I’m so strong-willed, I don’t think I could handle being locked up for 14 hours a day. But something has to be done.” In his tidy simple room where morning light creeps in, he points out a picture of his grandson.

— Andrew Kiraly


Broadacres Swap Meet
Brent Holmes

10 a.m.


10-10:45 am // Broadacres Swap Meet


Coffee and rehearsal with Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton-Holmes
Christopher Smith

11 a.m.


11 am - noon // Coffee and rehearsal with Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton-Holmes


A croissant for him. A fruit-and-oat bar for her. Dark-roast coffee with half-and-half and artificial sweetener (“because they don’t have Stevia here”) for both. Jeans, loose tops, comfortable shoes. This is no red carpet, where most photos of Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton-Holmes are shot. It’s Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at The District, where they can be found on weekend mornings when Kelly isn’t at Zumba and Clint’s usual brunch buddy, Antonio Fargas, is out of town. The pair chats amiably, finishing each other’s sentences, answering my always-wanted-to-know questions. (How do you avoid Vegas voice? “Drinking lots of water,” Clint says. What’s it like being married to another performer? “So much easier to understand each other,” Kelly says.) She watches his mouth as he talks. He lays a hand softly on her thigh.

Then the caffeine kicks in and it’s time to get down to business. We pile into Clint’s Mercedes and head to his friend and musical director Jeff Neiman’s house. Neiman’s living room-turned-studio is where Clint does most of his arranging and rehearsing. The pair is developing their September show for the Cabaret Jazz club at The Smith Center. It will have a James Taylor theme. The clock strikes noon as Clint launches into his version of “Fire and Rain,” one of a handful of songs they have nailed down. There’s still plenty of time to work out the rest before the show starts.

— Heidi Kyser

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