Monday, April 25, 2016

Exploring Earth Day in Las Vegas

Earth Day Write Up ( Better Late Than Never )

Better late than never. Earth day has come and passed us by here in Las Vegas, but here is a write up of what I had planned before I became overly intoxicated with the abundance of soil, flowers, screaming kids, hipsters in tight capri pants with oiled beards and yoga mats in hand, and best of all brought to you by IKEA. Las Vegas's new best friend. Or so they were there to tell us.
It's nice however that they took the time to come down and set up shop and show us some of their wares and what we could expect as we have not had an IKEA here in the Las Vegas Valley or any in any type of convenient proximity as the closest is all the way in Covina California. A good 4 hour drive one way, let's call it 8-9 round trip because of traffic. 
A simple shelf with a different assortment of glassware and containers was brightly perched off to the side and far to the back of Container Park, right off of Fremont street. There was a catalog featuring more of a selection at which I had picked up to read but was informed that it was the only one and needed to remain on the table. I suppose the wifi I could not get would have directed me to their website where I could have pondered which mason jar I would be putting my q-tips in and which my cotton balls. More likely just for show than actual use. I can not actually recall the last time I actually used or had the pressing need of a cotton ball. None the less the wind was blowing hard and the day was beautiful as kids ran around like little kettle corn infused transformers playing with the giant life sized Lego blocks while everything was getting set up. 

Our Friends at IKEA

My correction , it was our friends at IKEA. Or Container Park's friends. Not my friends. Not yet anyways. IKEA still has not been opened and the freeway ( woops interstate here ) just slows to a grind all day as people oooh and awe as the giant blue beast looms off to the side of I-215. I do not plan on going here for a good month and instead will try and possibly pick up a few good deals from competitors as every one else tries to cram themselves through the maze like structure and spends hours navigating it's treacherous pathways of cheap room lighting, and do-it-yourself dorm rooms. Maybe they will be my friend one day, but in the meantime I will write some interesting and witty phrase on the back wall with chalk since the last time I visited down here my crude drawing of butt-man has since been gone over a good couple of times. Butt-man was a little cartoon character I drew. And if you could guess it, it was of a butt. It had arms, legs, and eyes, and just basically farted on people. I was hoping his legend would live on and become an iconic staple of the DTLV wall art. His day will come.
container park jungle gym

Back To Earth Day Not IKEA Day

Ok ok it's not IKEA day, it's Earth Day here in Las Vegas, and I was  determined to find the meaning of it all. I watched as kids put dirt into metal buckets, and watered the dark soil with the hope that it would one day grow into the plant of their dreams. The parents really honestly did most of the work to prevent the giant mess that would be had. Then boredom set it quickly as it was realized that it would probably take weeks if not months for the tiny sprout to take hold and form into that magical beanstalk we all really want it to be. How cool would that be, but not possible, and in the mind of a child unless that happens right away its back to the Lego blocks and playing light sabers with the foam construction pieces. I even got distracted and never got my seed planted as the wind picked up and we took cover in one of the local shops they happened to have close by. Great little nook of a place called BluMarble which was right next to Oak & Ivy. Oak and Ivy is one of those gastro steampunk hipster bars where it basically takes ten minutes to craft a cocktail and you sober up by the time you get it since 28 different ingredients go into it, then it must be aged under direct natural sunlight for 4 minutes and 20 seconds before it can be mixed through three separate bourbon lined tins for that special hint of cocktail mastery.
Not going to hate here, they actually do a bang up job and make some godamn delicious drinks. The service is great and friendly, and even though the place is small it is always worth the wait. I have never had a bad drink here, and that is coming from a bartender of fifteen years.

BluMarble Handcrafted Glassware

Blu Marble is a great little spot in Container Park featuring custom cut and crafted glassware items. Usually not my kind of thing but the store is very well furnished and finished. The owner Rachel Cohen takes a lot of time hand picking all of the wonderful unique items placed about. I really loved the stuff they did with different liquor bottles, fireball, grey goose, and the like. Aside from lights, and drink ware they do feature some retail merchandise that you can wear on your wrist, around your neck, or just for fun, fashion, and style. Was pretty surprised at the diversity they could get with cut glass. The Odd Portrait had a few featured items such as purses and jewelry accessories but were quickly sold out. Ariana Deats the local Las Vegas fashion designer who crafted the handmade leather items featuring Blu Marbles custom cut stones regularly rotates different pieces in and out based on the season and was nice to see such a great business support other designers and creators as well.
blumarble,bluemarble las vegas
san miguel las vegas, san miguel trading co

The Art Box and More

Tons of local Las Vegas designers and artists are featured at Container Park which was refreshing to see. One of the remaining original tenants The Art Box had moved downstairs into prime location right up front had 35 different and unique contributors to their boutique. The owner was on hand and guided us through the stores and was very knowledgeable in the process of man grown crystals. Had something to do with the Russians building a giant laser at one point which they were going to try and blow up and fry their enemies under Stalin's reign or in that neighborhood of reasoning. Once my history lesson was finished we noticed many other great locals such as Pinches Tacos and the San Miguel Trading Company. The latter being one of the coolest Day of the Dead themed stores I have ever been graced to enter.

Earth Day and Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes

As Container Park seemed to be winding down before it began to wind back up, and with no music, band, or any of the featured promises in sight or setting up on the near horizon, we took our travels and adventures elsewhere to see if we could find the meaning of Earth Day here in Las Vegas. There had to be something going on right? We did not want to use the internet as our guide, as we could easily spend an hour looking up and reading about other activities instead of engaging with each other or those around us. The day had a feeling to it that we should be out meeting people, business owners, and taking part in not just staring at social media, and letting that direct and guide our path down this special day. Although I had been playing Star Wars Galaxy of heroes on my phone, they had an Earth Day promotion week where proceeds went to a great cause, and they released special Ewok battles. I have been hooked on this game for awhile and with raids coming soon what better time than now to get a few easy free Ewok character shards.
To detour just a little I love this game, and have played it every single day since it's release. My galaxy of heroes squad is pretty legit and I was ranking 23rd in arena until I swapped in a healer for my droids and I dropped to the 200's overnight. So I had to find some way to bring my arena ranking back up, and did not mind since they were doing a good thing by donating the money I had to spend to revamp my squad and tug it out of the cellar with the other noobs. I did this behind my wifes back actually, in the bathroom, and well basically every chance she was not looking. I think she did bust me at a red light though, but I won the 5 on 5 battle defeating Darth Sideous and Storm Trooper Han Solo with my Hk-47 and Count Dooku just as time expired. Score. 
Plus I donated to a good cause and had fun while doing it, in fact I got more enjoyment out of bumping some other random player named Mol Eliza out of his bracket and ruined his reward tier for the day than I had staring at my empty pot of dirt which I was certain would never grow into that magical beanstalk.
el cortez las vegas

Tivoli Village and Animal Chin

The search for Earth Day was becoming more like the Search for Animal Chin. Anybody remember that awesome old Bones Brigade skater movie with Tony Hawk? They went all over the world and back searching for this mythical Chinese skater guy and the half pipe of their dreams. I'll have to see if i can find a download on that, it's been in the realm of 20 years since I saw it last. Game down, and game on. Driving down past Boca Park, Tivoli village looked like it was the place to be! Right from the street there were tons of people and the place actually looked busy. This place is never busy. It was for once bustling with activity.
tivoli village las vegas

Tivoli Village

We arrived on the scene at Tivoli village for the first time in months as we found less and less reasons to visit as spots got shut down regularly that we would go to, and there just never was any life or fun to the place. Gorgeous to look at, so well built and done, but just a ghost town. Upstairs features these amazing small boutiques indie owned and created with some of the coolest setups and designs across the board from art, to fashion and wearables, and everything else in between. It was only by happenstance we stumbled across this small mecca of creativity by following a staircase upstairs through a crepe cafe. At once point I contacted inquiring about renting out a space for our own retail brick and mortar presence but the rent was absurdly high, none of the stores were open, and was near impossible to find.
Fast forward to present time, the crepe place is gone, along with The Poppy Den, the pizza place, and a few others I can not remember the names of. But their were hundreds of people all gathered around a stage with music, and festivities. Well more like one face painting stand with a line wrapped around the corner, and a kid's play area that was just too much to handle at this point. Most of the people looked to just be hanging out, the businesses were empty, and nobody was spending a dime it appeared. It's too bad people only show up when something is free, and leave cotton candy wrappers littered about on a beautiful place. No wonder people have such a hard time staying in business, you practically have to give something away for free just to get a crowd, who would not be there otherwise, without any intentions of using any of the wonderful facilities.
A cigar bar with a piano looked elegant and classy, and a kids storefront with lights and toys brightened up, only to find out it was locked and only a mock-up of what could have been. Nothing actually existed inside. The other places were closed, I mean it was Friday at 5pm after all, would be silly to be open right? The small Euro Cafe did have some life to it with their $8 micro cheesecakes yet delicious coffee. The wind was tearing apart all outside seating and chairs and tables were being toppled over one by one. The crowd dispersed along with the remaining daylight, and Earth Day seemed to be Earth Night. The kid was tired and yawning, and our feet were getting blistered. We kept our eyes out for any new fashion, style, or statements that might have been had, but aside from the hum drum sports apparel which usually is either A) The local team or B) Last years super bowl winner.
In the end though I suppose it never was supposed to be about education and cramming your brain with useless facts about a place we probably all take for granted, after all, Prince had just Overdosed and I am sure the entire country was inside mourning playing Purple Rain while Chyna's passing was becoming pushed down the search results and story lines. It did remind me to water my plants at home, but then I felt guilty about the water I was using, so was left in a conundrum of thought about what I could actually do to better take part in this next year. Until then, here's to Earth Day, DTLV, and of course, my mascot and inspiring force since I was six. This is for you butt-man.

 -Joshua Deats @ TheOddPortrait