Jerry Tarkanian’s biggest mistake ever

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A few years ago, right around this time of year, I had the chance to interview former UNLV Runnin’ Rebels Coach Jerry Tarkanian, who died today at 84.

I was working on a Valentine’s Day story about couples in the spotlight, how local Vegas celebrities manage the ups and downs of a relationship in the public sphere. So photographer Leila Navidi and I showed up to talk with Tark and his wife Lois, a city councilwoman, at their Las Vegas home. While we waited for Lois to arrive, I sat in the kitchen with Tark, trying to make small talk while he grumbled about Lois the way old married couples do. He wasn’t really in the mood for an interview, but he mostly tolerated us anyway. And when we got around to the early days in his relationship with Lois he lit up a bit, and told this wonderfully endearing story:

“We didn’t have a big wedding because we didn’t have a lot of money. I was the assistant football coach at a Catholic high school and it was football season. We had a game on Friday night and we got married on Saturday. I took her to the Fresno State/Idaho football game [for our honeymoon], and she’s never forgiven me for that. That was the biggest mistake I ever made, but in reality there was nowhere to go.”

Click here to read Tark’s obituary on the Las Vegas Sun, and click here for the rest of our 2011 story on “Love in the limelight.”


Read this now: In the bathtub with Piff the Magic Dragon

Scrub a dub dub? Erin Ryan chats with Piff (and sidekick Mr. Piffles) at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at Cosmopolitan. By Adam Shane

Scrub a dub dub? Erin Ryan chats with Piff (and sidekick Mr. Piffles) at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at Cosmopolitan. By Adam Shane

For the Weekly‘s Interview Issue last week, we set out to start conversations—with a star DJ who just moved to town, a pastry prodigy changing the game in Chinatown, a biologist studying desert creatures and random strangers in elevators who may not have known they were being interviewed. But the hands-down winner for Most Likely to Make You Literally Laugh Out Loud was Erin Ryan’s interview with Rose. Rabbit. Lie.’s Piff the Magic Dragon. Set in a bathtub with a Chihuahua and doughnuts, naturally:

Should I take my shoes off? I have dragon-colored socks. Yeah, take ’em off. It’s a socks-only bath.

So, are you technically naked right now? Technically, I am naked, yeah. But magic dragons are used to being naked. That’s how we spend our lives. It’s like Adam and Eve before the fall. It’s very Biblical. …

Click here to keep reading (you know you want to, he’s a magic dragon!).


A five-second fall photo tour

Ah, the blog. We had a good run there, all those posts, all that writing. And then, as per usual, I fell off the wagon.

It was tragic, of course. People kept commenting and emailing, begging for the blog to return. Oh wait, no one did that.

Regardless, I’m back for another crack at this self-indulgent little exercise—starting with a five-second photo tour of the fall you missed:


This “mural” by Portuguese street artist Vhils was part of the Life Is Beautiful art program, and I’m fully obsessed with it. Rather than painting his walls, Vhils chips paint away to create his pieces, which are simply beautiful and incredibly expressive.


I spotted this religious sculpture at the Broadacres flea market in North Las Vegas while Tovin was on assignment. The market is a vast, overwhelming consumer landscape, where you can buy everything from roast peanuts to cable TV packages to luchador masks and underwear.


A co-worker’s desk cactus. I thought it looked like some freaky insect ready to spread its tentacles and attack.


My bib number from the 2013 Las Vegas Ragnar Relay. This was my third year running, first year captaining, and my team ran like banshees from Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort to Lake Las Vegas, devouring miles at a far faster pace than we expected. We crossed the finish line (only mostly dead) about an hour and a half early and placed 38th in our division. But mostly we just had a crazy blast, which is really the whole point.


Afterward, Tovin and I returned the vans and finally tried Lulu’s Bread & Breakfast, where I ate this fantastic creation, which was basically an open-faced caprese egg sandwich. I wish I could put it in my mouth every weekend.


Speaking of food, check out this snapshot from the Friendsgiving 2013 spread. I’m talking two turkeys, 25 people, 32 biscuits, a couple of parents and a ridiculous amount of leftovers. (Not pictured: my first-ever lemon meringue pie, which mostly worked)


And finally, a for-personal-use-only photo from our Neon Museum visit with Tovin’s parents. I always find something new to photograph and obsess over, like this gorgeous purple sign, which is currently the wallpaper on my phone.

A perfect day in Las Vegas

Dreaming of Bouchon's chicken and waffles ... Photo by Leila Navidi

Dreaming of Bouchon’s chicken and waffles … Photo by Leila Navidi

Ever wake up, think What should I do today?, and come up empty? In the last issue of Las Vegas Weekly, we kicked boredom in the teeth with curated itineraries, native’s recommendations, a choose-your-own-adventure quiz and personal dream days from Weekly staffers. From Fat Elvis’ lounge show to McCarran runway watching,  epic meatball subs and something called the “Pizghetti,” your new favorite afternoon activity is in here somewhere. Maybe it’s even mine.

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The desert wins. Almost.


I have a philosophy about living in Las Vegas in the summer. It’s that you can’t let the heat decide your day. If you let the temperature determine what you do, you’ll stay huddled next to the air conditioner all summer. And your electric bill will be astronomical.

Unfortunately, sometimes I take that mantra a bit too far. I’ll decide to bike to the park at noon or go for run after 6 a.m. Biking when it’s 105 degrees isn’t much fun. Neither is running when it’s 92.

But in the last few weeks the temperature has dropped to reasonable highs in the low 90s. Compared to the searing of mid-July, it’s felt downright pleasant. So, you’ll understand how I could load Samba into the car for a midday desert hike inside the Red Rock Conservation Area to First Creek a few weeks ago. There was a light breeze, a few clouds and a (very) gentle trail that crossed some open desert before descending into a canyon to end at a (very) little pond filled with equally small fish. We even ran into a wild burro that posed for our cameras and engaged Samba in a good staring contest before turning just a bit menacing.

Burro on dog staring contest. (Spoiler alert: the burro wins.)

Burro on dog staring contest. (Spoiler alert: the burro wins.)

Still, when it comes to large, black dogs, low-90s temperatures in direct sun are like sitting in a tanning bed stuck on high inside a sauna. Samba took to digging up cold dirt under every other desert bush, hunkering down, tongue lolling, as she tried to escape the heat. I thought about turning back, but by now we were closer to the water at the end of the hike than the car with its shade and air conditioning. Apologizing to the dog, we pushed forward.

Samba, intrepid explorer.

Samba, intrepid explorer.

Samba made it, of course. She charged for the pond-puddle, ran in as far as she could without swimming, lapped up as much water as she needed and then proceeded to bounce around, splashing the small children who were taking a break with their parents. By the time we headed for home, Samba was soaked through and happy. She ran most of the way back to the car, and I’m pretty sure by the time she passed out on the floor back home, she’d forgiven us.

Still, some days, the desert wins. Some days, we’d be better off hunkering next to the AC. Or at least doing our hikes on Mount Charleston.

Five Vegas restaurants on my dining to-do list


Braided nigiri at Kabuto. Photo by Beverly Poppe for Las Vegas Weekly


One of my favorite extracurricular activities is eating—in odd ethnic corners, from the windows of food trucks, at local classics or pretty much anywhere else that serves dishes prepared with care and skill. 

And in Vegas, there are always new places to explore. Here are five at the top of my dining to-do list:

1. Kabuto Widely deemed the new standard in local sushi, this Chinatown hole-in-the-wall is known for serving fresh fish imported twice weekly from Tokyo. It’s 18 seats, damn pricey and, from what I hear, worth every penny. Here’s what Jim Begley had to say about it in the Weekly.

2. Goto Pares Atbp This Filipino restaurants popped up recently on E. Charleston and claims to serve authentic street food. What do I know about it? Not much. But I’m damn curious to give it a try and see what they have going.

3. Naked City Pizza It’s way past time I get to this pizza/sandwich shop from Chris Palmeri, where Buffalo-style pizza is the name of the game. I don’t plan on waiting til the fall to get in there, but if the Pats beat the Bills during their first game of the season, dinner’s on Chris!

4. DW Bistro I’m a brunch junkie and I hear this off-Strip favorite does it right, with challah French toast, Mexican-style pork and eggs and breakfast sandwiches. Yes please. 

5. Chocolate & Spice Casino vet Megan Romano’s newish Westside bakery should really be towards the top of this list, but until Tovin’s done with his low saturated fat diet, I’m holding off on heading her way. Why visit a bakery if you can’t partake in all the buttery, chocolaty, flaky pastry goodness?