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📝 Guest List: Scott Dickensheets, writer and editor 📝

June 6, 2023 - June 9, 2023

In Guest List, we invite a noteworthy Las Vegan to share a personal list of their favorite things about living in Southern Nevada. This Guest List is by writer and editor Scott Dickensheets.


Hi, Scott Dickensheets here, all up in your List today. I write a newsletter called Hey Las Vegas; before that I spent three decades tootling my bebop at the city’s dailies, weeklies, monthlies, and whateverlies. Here’s some of what’s on my radar at the moment:


The Rainbow Owl Preserve: My granddaughter loves owls, so I love owls. But what really jazzes me about this place is its story: Responding to the encroachment of rural-residential Centennial Hills on a patch of desert home to some small burrowing owls, the Audubon people and others bought three parcels where the birds live. Just redacted that land from capitalist exploitation, fenced it off, and left the owls alone to hunt desert mice and con children out of their Tootsie Roll Pops. It’s right there in a neighborhood! You can park by the fence and watch them. (Best to go at dawn or dusk.)


Grouchy John’s: Lotta coffee options in the valley, and this joint on Hendo’s outskirts is mine. It’s got shelves of random books; the bricolage on the walls seems less self-consciously curated than left behind by a quirky tide; and you never know who you’ll run into. Will it be street-writin’ man Harry Fagel? Retired rock journalist Lonn Friend, who can fill an afternoon with stories? Tip: Try the almond roca coffee.


Audrey Barcio, Sight/Line: I’ve leaned hard into the mushroom existence made possible first by quarantine, then by work-from-home. But I’ll get outta the house for this. Barcio’s exhibit of rigid geometric abstractions — sourced, we’re told, from “feminist symbology” and “the esoteric science of sacred geometry” — coincides with my own noodling interest in how abstract art generates meaning at a purely formal level, without recognizable imagery or narrative. (On view June 9-August 26; reception June 15.)


Street Burger: This newish three-story burger place is brought to you by the fast-forward remaking of Henderson’s once-sleepy Water Street. It offers plenty of artisanally messy burgers — try the Piggie Smalls if you like pulled pork on your burger, and if you don’t, unfriend me now. But here’s the real draw: a third-floor patio with a whoa! view of the valley. Nice backdrop for your Instagram food shot.


Erica Vital-Lazare: As close to a cultural treasure as Southern Nevada has, Erica multi-hyphenates on several levels. She an English professor at CSN; as a member of its literary committee, she’s left a distinct mark on the Las Vegas Book Festival; she’s curated exhibits at the invaluable Barrick Museum; on the national level, she’s working with the hipster McSweeney’s publishing outfit to bring out a line of rediscovered Black literature. She’s a marvel of wisdom, industry — and heart. 


Avantpop Books: I ought to dedicate this blurb to The Writer’s Block, for obvious reasons, and it’s worth every ounce of love I routinely give it. But a healthy lit scene has more than one nutritive stratum, so let’s celebrate this funky used-book space in New Orleans Square. Owners Sugar and Shwa Laytart have imparted to it an endearingly loose, bootstrap feel; assembled a selection that defines “eclectic”; host charming events (silent reading?!); and run their own modest publishing effort.


StorySLAM: I’ll confess a rooting interest here: My colleague Dayvid Figler is the hotshot emcee for this storytelling event. But the dude’s been an antic and beloved presence on Vegas’ spoken-word scene far longer than we’ve been pals, and for good reason. Dayvid knows his shit. And I trust he’s prepped this evening’s speakers for maximum bust-out. Equally intriguing is the theme: “Free.” In this economy? In this town? Wild! (June 10)

(Note: The official soundtrack to this list is random songs by crumple-voiced troubadour Claude Bourbon, who’ll be in town June 6.)


June 6, 2023
June 9, 2023
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