If you could erase a few things from Las Vegas’ skyline and return them to their pre-1990s boom state, what would they be?
I frequently daydream about time traveling to various periods of our city’s history to absorb the sights and sounds. My dreamy Lost Vegas mix-tape includes the Desert Inn (now Wynn and Encore), where Frank Sinatra played and performed; the Sands (Venetian) and its lush pool oasis beneath the expansive glass windows of the 24-hour Garden Room Coffee Shop (the perfect place for a high school boy to enjoy a Monte Cristo and the view); the Dunes (now Bellagio), home of the perfectly kitschy Dome of the Sea restaurant; the Stardust (wherefore art thou, Echelon?), with its Aku Aku tiki bar and restaurant; and the stylish Algiers Motel (swept aside to make way for the never-built Krystal Sands condo tower)—a classic weeping-brick motor hotel centered by a pool and a cozy, old-school cocktail lounge. Still, I’m happy to have modern Las Vegas, and losing the last two bothers me mostly because nothing has yet opened in their stead.
I have 36 hours to escape this hellhole. Where should I go?
By “hellhole,” I’ll assume you mean either it’s too hot or it’s too Vegas. Either way, that’s a small window, but it can be done. They key is sharing the drive and not being in a hurry. My favorite 36-hour reboots come in the form of road trips to San Diego (and PCH north to Laguna Beach), Flagstaff, Ariz., and Zion National Park.
Where can I go to hear good acoustic guitar in town?
During acoustic music’s most recent heyday in the 1990s, acoustic rock, jazz and Latin guitar was buoyed by the city’s indie coffeehouses. With those mostly gone, the music’s harder to find, but I’ve run into some good stuff at both downtown’s The Beat and Summerlin’s Sambalatte.
Another past blast was the Acoustic Asylum, a weekly powerhouse of acoustic rock hosted by Paul Summers Jr. and frequented by Steve McCoy, Martin Melancon and other local musicians. The Asylum rocked the Shark Club, Cafe Espresso Roma and the Boston. Today, catch Nashville Unplugged at Green Valley Ranch, a curated lineup at House of Blues, an open-mic Thursday jam at Money Plays, and Shawn Eiferman—you may recall him back in the day—performing at Rosalita’s Cantina at Sunset Station.