Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011 | 2 a.m.
With a seemingly fixed spot on the list of the nation’s highest unemployment and foreclosure rates, it’s sometimes easy to forget that we live in one of the most exciting cities in the world.
Las Vegas has a lot going for it and each year during Thanksgiving, our sister publication Las Vegas Weekly does what it can to remind us of that by putting together its annual list of the 53 things to be thankful for.
And to no surprise, Las Vegas native Anthony Marshall and the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels basketball team are high on the list.
Listed below are 20 from that list. To see the rest, please visit lasvegasweekly.com.
UNLV’s Mounted Police Unit — There’s something about an officer of the law who can wield 1,000 pounds of galloping, carrot-loving force while protecting the innocent.
That we don’t have a Real Housewives show...yet — Orange County. Atlanta. New Jersey. New York. Beverly Hills. Everywhere the Real Housewives series goes, it makes the locals appear petty, self-absorbed, obnoxious and downright stupid. We’ve had our scares — and no doubt there are plenty of Vegas housewives who would live up to their bicoastal counterparts — but so far, producers have steered clear of our desert town. Thank you, and please, stay away.
All the beer fests in Las Vegas — Finally, Sin City seems to be getting the point. People. Love. Beer. Feel free to pour even more.
Buffalo Exchange — Sure, better deals may be found elsewhere. But few other thrift stores so consistently deliver clothing in good condition that we’d actually consider wearing. Plus, there’s something sweet about hearing a sales person say, “Dolce and Gabbana were doing a lot of that this season,” while holding a $15 jacket. 4110 S. Maryland Parkway, 791-3960.
Zia Record Exchange — ’Cause sometimes we still like to hold music in our hands. 4503 W. Sahara Ave., 233-4942, and 4225 S. Eastern Ave., 735-4942.
Free samples at Poke Express — Nothing brightens a crap day like a chunk of spicy octopus on a toothpick. 655 W. Craig Road, 639-0500; 9400 S. Eastern Ave., 221-1600.
Rebel basketball — Respect to the 51s, Wranglers and Locomotives, but Las Vegas is a major-league city, and the Runnin’ Rebels are our major-league franchise. They compete against the nation’s best (see: Saturday’s looming showdown with No. 1 North Carolina, provided UNLV can get past USC today), and, when all goes well, they punch our town’s ticket to the Big Dance. Here’s hoping we’ll be giving thanks for another strong season come March.
The views from Sunrise Mountain — Climb to the top of the Stratosphere if you want, we’ll take our views of the castle, pyramid and volcano as nature intended.
The 215 — Getting from Green Valley to Summerlin really used to stink.
Downtown revitalization projects — It used to be the place to score cheap drinks and minimal table bets. We’ll never tire of that aspect of downtown, though it’s been enhanced by a whole lot of awesomeness: Fremont East bar-hopping, the Vegas StrEATS food truck festival, First Friday expanded and the Downtown FEED farmers market. Need we say more?
Pittman Wash Trail in Henderson — In the thick of the pavement jungle, there’s an alternate world where cactus is beautiful, roadrunners exist and memorial trees dedicated to beloved pets have the best holiday decorations ever.
McCarran Economy Lot shuttle — Free, easy and always pulling up right as you step out of the car. It makes late-night parking feel less like a Lifetime movie-in-the-making.
A local ID — A Nevada ID has power, that two-inch piece of plastic. It gets its holder free entry at nearly every club on the Strip at least one night a week, 50 percent off weekday bottles of wine at Aria restaurants, 2-for-1 tickets to Blue Man Group and The Lion King, discounted treatments at spas and preferential reservations at some of the city’s best restaurants. But more than that, pulling out a Nevada license nets a knowing look, a few extra kind words and some of the best service that money doesn’t need to buy, because you’re local, dammit, and that matters. Find more locals’ deals at stayandplayhere.com.
That Carolyn Goodman is actually —gasp! —a pretty great mayor — She’s quickly making inroads with the community, and her husband is staying in the background, enjoying the emeritus status he’s completely earned.
Boulder City — The English toffee at the ice cream shop. The cheap beer buckets at the pizza place. The warm, crusty bread at the wine bar. The artists and bikers. The creepy yet delightful presence of stuffed, carved and sculpted “people.” The dog-friendliness. The crammed windowsills of old homes. The talking alien. The soul.
Local artists — Yes, Justin Favela re-created pieces of CityCenter’s $40 million art collection with used cardboard, building rudimentary appropriations. And yes, Emily Kennerk constructed a mournful display of our foreclosure crisis for us to reject, embrace and grieve with. They, and so many other artists here, examine, scramble, absorb, reflect, reject and depict the world around us, giving so much depth to this visual city.
Electric Daisy Carnival — The fest’s lineup never disappoints, but the mere fact that it ditched LA to generate a reported $136 million for Clark County is reason enough to be appreciative for America’s No. 1 rave.
Downtown Cocktail Room’s ‘secret’ door — Everybody does it the first time. New patrons desperately feeling along the tinted glass walls are gifts that keep on giving to those on the inside. 111 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 880-3696.
Art-O-Mat — Original works for less than the cost of a cocktail. Your collection awaits. At the Cosmopolitan.
The Colosseum — Seeing a performance inside the Caesars Palace landmark feels like an event no matter who’s playing.