THIS IS ME wishing for the existence of a temporal freeze-ray that puts select favorite parts of reality under a glass dome of unchanging, static forever: Specifically, selfishly, pettily, for me, that phase of Downtown 3.0 — or are we up to 4.0 or 5.0 now? — where you can still bluster hope-filled into an Arts District restaurant 6p on a Friday without reservations and it’s not some grave international ICBM launch detection event that requires grim and hurried diplomatic staff triage.
Amen, this happened, actually happened. I wonder how long the phase will last amid the looming nimbostratus clouds gathering to pour buckets of capital on Downtown. It’s always still nice, a nice little grown-up surprise to get a table on a walk-up. This happened, well, 6p Friday at Yu or Mi, a reliably lively and good sushi restaurant situated such that its big windows offer vantage on various street-theater scenes. But please note the street-theater watches back.
A dragon roll, a gulp of sauv blanc, and it was off to the Charleston Heights Arts Center to see “A Cool Yule,” the seasonal dance bash by Contemporary West Dance Theatre. A two-intermission, long-player, year’s-fat-bookend of a seasonal show, but buoyed by a kind of wise episodic briskness. It def had its dutiful charms with kiddie numbers, crowd-pleasers, blithe skits with a variously costumed and butter-voiced emcee Joe Souza, but all that was banked by episodes of knuckle-biting fluency and grace in the segments that highlighted the dance company’s headline talent. Eyes dry because I didn’t want to blink. A choral, uplifted, communal-solidarity ensemble that closed out the second act came close to inducing a throat-lump.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON was spent in the emerging warren of endearing strangeness of Commerial Center’s New Orleans Square. Caught Eric Gladstone’s reading from his ’90s alt-rock profile anthology Anything But Nirvana (disclosure: His Feast of Friends is my PR pusher) at the cozily oddball Avantpop Books, sparking a smart post-read discussion about What Happened to Music and Music Journalism? Afterwards, a doorstop of a tuna melt and beer at underrated Square Bar, and drop-in to ASAP Gallery’s “Manuport” show, which I highly recommend.1 A manuport is an archeological term that refers to natural objects taken from one site to another, presumably for their beauty or interest. The OG found art, courtesy of our ancestors. This show — curated by artist Mary Sabo, who was chilling there amiably with some fam giving great energy — is a collection of tiny works that glimmer and attract with their curious incidentality. You can deploy a little flashlight to inspect their details and peer into the devotion (and obsessiveness?) that small artworks require.
Afterwards, picked up white elephant gifts at Hellbound Horror. Speaking of detail, Hellbound sells insanely detailed cast-resin figurines from every horror franchise imaginable, never mind from occult pantheons (tentacular Cthulu-worshippers, complete your shrine here), and we swapped favorite horror-movie intel with the owners.2
Anyway, here are some cool things to do this week through Thursday:
7p Monday Dec. 19 at Whitney Library: Mentioned this before, but the compelling novelty of it demands a repeat: actor Duffy Hudson plays all 30 roles in his ambitious one-person production of “A Christmas Carol.”
8p Tuesday Dec. 20 at The Usual Place: Often-grooving, sometimes-singing instrumental math-rock outfit Strawberry Girls performs with guests Amarionette, The Color 8, and Himiko Cloud. I was an early acolyte of Dillinger Escape Plan, so the whole-body brain-food of math rock always rings my deep-cellular bells.
7p Wednesday Dec. 21 at Cornish Pasty Co.: The lush, beaded-curtain seaside tikixotica of The Hypnotiques. And oh, the purity of their aesthetic and wardrobing!
7p Wednesday Dec. 21 at 18bin: Arts District Car Show. Listed because with sporadic regularity I remember that long before they were merely single-serving transport boxes that misshape entire cities, cars were moving sculptures.
Wednesday Dec. 21 through Saturday Dec. 24: Last chance to catch Nevada Ballet Theatre’s holiday heavyweight, The Nutcracker. The color-coded availability dots on The Smith Center’s site are starting to glow red.
All day Thursday Dec. 22-March 12, 2023 at the Summerlin Library: “Inspirations from Hayes.” Jacquelyn Hayes is a passionate collector and champion of work by Black artists — many of them unsung, under-recognized, or eclipsed by their appropriators — and this exhibit, “Inspirations from Hayes,” showcases their work. (Pictured: Romare Bearden’s “Martin Luther King, Jr. – Mountain Top,” 1968, screenprint)
8p Thursday Dec. 22 at Artifice: Hyped as, complete with all-caps, “Vegas’ ONLY Circus Open-Mic,” Stacey Stardust’s Secret Circus seems to vibrate with the right kind of zany in the holiday run-up.
10p Thursday Dec. 22 at the Sand Dollar Downtown: The assured indie moodpop of singer/songwriter Maejoy joins forces with multi-instrumental crew The Noir Movement. The power-up multiplier effect should be something to hear.
Also, random stumble: Holly Lay, co-operator of ASAP along with Homero Hidalgo, has a cool conceptual Tumblr art project rabbit hole worth diving into: Untitled Screen Caps, in which she tracks the life of self-portraits she uploads to various stock-photo websites. It’s interesting to see how her diverse and distinct self-portraiture migrates into the world to become broadly indicative, impersonal, and genericized.