There was a time when Las Vegas was quick to demolish pieces of its history in favor of something shiny and new. I don’t think the city is completely past that, but it’s slowed considerably, especially in the downtown area.

In recent years, we’ve become more attached to older buildings and signage, preserving, enhancing, and in many cases, reimagining them for new businesses. One of today’s best examples is the Fergusons Motel on Fremont Street. Originally built for post-WWII families who were taking to the road, the property – known at the time as the Franklin Motel – eventually fell victim to the same economic misfortune and rising crime that plagued downtown from the 1970s to the early 2000s.

Now the motel has been given a new life by the Downtown Project. On Vegas Seven sister site, DTLV.com, I explored the history of the Fergusons and spoke with, among others, the surviving family of its original owners. Through these interviews, we explored Las Vegas’ days as a boomtown, what led to the downtown bust, and how committed people are to preserving the motel’s legacy.

An Oral History of Fergusons Motel on DTLV.com
                                                                                An Oral History of Fergusons Motel

John Carpenter is a Rock Star written by Jason R Latham for Vegas Seven
                   Vegas Seven


October saw the release of filmmaker John Carpenter’s latest studio album, Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998, a collection of memorable scores from his career. To promote the album, Carpenter is going on tour with his band, and the first stop is The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday, October 29.

I previewed Carpenter’s concert for Vegas Seven after sampling the album, using excerpts from an interview provided by his publicist. As a director, Carpenter has been out of sight since 2010’s The Ward (a film few people saw), but he’s gained a new following thanks to two successful electronic albums, Lost Themes and Lost Themes II. In fact, he’s seems to be enjoying this “second career” at an age in which most people have settled into retirement. At 69, not only is Carpenter embarking on a tour, but he’s also lined up to score the

next Halloween movie, due out in 2018, and he recently wrote the foreword for Now Playing Podcast’s Underrated Movies We Recommend.

I’ve been a fan of Carpenter’s films since I was a kid, getting hooked on The Fog, Halloween, and They Live. In the 90s I discovered The Thing and Christine, and I remember seeing Village of the Damned, Escape from L.A.,Vampires, and Ghosts of Mars in the theater. Shockingly, I didn’t see Escape from New YorkBig Trouble in Little China, or Prince of Darkness until I was an adult — for some reason, I just never stumbled upon the films when they were on cable, and I passed them over without much thought at the video store.

But now I’ve seen them all, and while I can’t say they’re all great, they’re all patently Carpenter, right down to his synth scores. In some cases, the scores are better than the movies themselves, and that’s what gets me so excited to see him live.

 

Las Vegas faces a dilemma moving forward in the wake of a mass shooting, writes Jason R. Latham for The Hollywood Reporter
              The Hollywood Reporter

How does Las Vegas put on a happy face in the wake of this week’s tragedy? It’s a dilemma I examine in my latest piece for The Hollywood Reporter.

As the Strip struggles to find normalcy — with an active crime scene at the Route 91 Harvest festival site and multiple memorials springing up along Las Vegas Boulevard – I went down to the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, where Elvis is still putting on a show despite all that’s happened.

“We have to become normal again and start to do the things we normally do to make Vegas happen,” explains Elvis impersonator Mark Rumpler, who has been down at the sign all week in his white jumpsuit and sunglasses.

The city’s chief concern, in the meantime, is assuring the public that its casinos, hotels, and concerts are safe. But Steve Adelman of the Event Safety Alliance says there’s a risk of overreaction to a tragic scenario that no one could have predicted.

“We’re talking about Las Vegas, which already does more than just about every other American city to keep its guests safe and secure,” he says.

You can read the article now on The Hollywood Reporter website.

In this October 4 story for The Hollywood Reporter, Jason R. Latham and Ryan Parker examine Las Vegas in the aftermath of the October 2 attack on the Route 91 Harvest music festival
The Hollywood Reporter, 10.4.17

Live music, especially outdoor concert festivals, mean so much to the Las Vegas economy. In the wake of the Oct. 1 shootings at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a city that exists purely as an entertainment destination is faced with the dual tasks of healing its wounds while reassuring the visiting public that they are safe in its casinos, arenas, and outdoor venues.

In this week’s issue of The Hollywood Reporter (on newsstands and online), Senior Staff Writer Ryan Parker and I take a look at the potential impact of Stephen Paddock’s attack on the Strip, from the perspective of a Las Vegas show producer and a performer, as well as industry analysts and the former Aurora, Colorado police chief, who investigated the 2012 Dark Knight Rises theater shootings.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, a number of Las Vegas shows canceled their Oct. 2 performances, and the band Cake, which had been scheduled to perform Oct. 5 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, postponed their show to February in response to the tragedy. The Strip is attempting a return to normalcy, although nothing will feel normal here for a long time.

Fortunately, Las Vegas blood banks continue to see unprecedented turnout, and a GoFundMe account titled the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund had raised more than $9 million as of Wednesday night.

On a personal note, I wish my first article for The Hollywood Reporter had been published under better circumstances, but I’m proud to have gotten the opportunity to write for a publication that I respect more than any other in the industry.

 

Criss Angel’s Disappearing Act? in Vegas Seven magazine
Vegas Seven

Before Thursday’s issue of Vegas Seven magazine hits newsstands I wanted to mention a story I wrote in the previous issue; a profile of Las Vegas Strip magician Criss Angel and his pending “free agency.”

I attended Angel’s show in July, we spoke backstage, and later in length over the phone, discussing everything from acting advice to his magic merchandise, and side projects. But much of our conversation was spent discussing how Angel took creative control of his show (formerly titled Believe and now Mindfreak Live!) and what he plans to do after his deal is up in 2018.

“All my options are open. If my show wasn’t so successful, then I probably would be in a different situation, but because it has really been incredible and I’ve been very blessed to have the type of success that I’ve been bestowed, I’m in a good position to be a free agent.” — Criss Angel

Unlike some who have come before him, Angel isn’t entirely dependent on Las Vegas. Here’s a guy who has a magic empire of television specials, touring shows, and the aforementioned merchandise – maybe we need him more than he needs us?

Criss Angel’s Disappearing Act? written by Jason R. Latham for Vegas Seven magazine
Vegas Seven

I’m not going to wager on a scenario, but after seeing his show I hope he decides to stick around. I was in the audience on a Thursday night and the theater was packed, and, as I describe in the article, there are some really die hard fans out there. Additionally, Angel enjoys a lot of local support for his chartable efforts, HELP (Heal Every Life Possible), and the Johnny Chrisstopher Children’s Charitable Foundation, an organization named after his son and dedicated to research and treatment for pediatric cancer.

Our conversation lasted much longer than was necessary for the article, so I have a lot of excerpts leftover, and I wanted to share one in this post. At one point I asked Angel when Las Vegas started to feel like home, and this was his response:

“When I moved out of a hotel, because I lived in Planet Hollywood for a couple of years, and I lived at the Luxor for a few years. It was very difficult, because you couldn’t just go downstairs. It was very challenging. But at that point, I was a completely different person than I am today. I was a very, very different person. And with age comes wisdom and change, and I’m just a different human being, and I prefer a much more quiet life. So for me, when I moved away from that I kind of felt a creative sense of balance, because where I live you don’t hear Vegas. You see it, but you don’t hear it. It’s very tranquil, it’s much more soothing, and it’s just a different life.” — Criss Angel

 

 

Funding shortages are threatening one of Las Vegas’ most important resources for women, and some of the city’s most recognized chefs are stepping up to help.

Right now on DTLV.com (one of Vegas Seven magazine’s sister sites) you can read my preview of next month’s “Feast of Friends 2: A Dinner Called Peace,” a benefit dinner to support The Shade Tree. On August 31, the organization is scheduled to close its transitional women’s shelter, a temporary home for women and families escaping abusive situations. As Vegas Seven’s Amber Sampson writes, the closure could lead to a painful uprooting for people currently staying there.

Here’s how the transitional housing program works, from The Shade Tree website:

“The Transitional Shelter program allows single women and families additional time (up to 1 year) to access programs and to achieve goals. Each resident is assigned a case manager who assists her in establishing a case plan that will help her move toward self-sufficiency.  Program goals are designed to aide residents in finding employment that pays a living wage, securing stable housing, saving money and accessing needed services. Each working resident in the Transitional Housing Program is required to save at least 30% of her income each month. 164 beds are also available in this program consisting of 84 beds for families and 80 beds for single women.”

“Feast of Friends 2” will bring together chefs and mixologists from trendy spots such as Sparrow + Wolf, The Venetian’s Yardbird, Delmonico Steakhouse, and Herbs & Rye, among others. Tickets to the September 19 dinner go on sale August 31.

Vegas Chefs Rally for Shade Tree Benefit by Jason R Latham
Screenshot: DTLV.com

The August 24 issue of Vegas Seven magazine
Vegas Seven

Just ahead of the biggest fight weekend (so far) in Las Vegas this year, the new issue of Vegas Seven magazine includes our monster Fall Sports preview. Inside you’ll read about Conor McGregor’s nightclub residency (a first for a professional athlete on the Strip), an interview with University of Nevada, Las Vegas Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois, profiles of three UNLV athletes to watch, and two stories I wrote previewing the arrival of the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights, our city’s inaugural pro sports franchise.

“When the Pros Hit the Residential Scene” is a look at southern Nevada’s housing market, why it’s healthier than in years past, and what that means for the professional athletes looking for the right neighborhood to settle down.
“When the Pros Hit the Residential Scene”

“When the Pros Hit the Residential Scene” is a look at southern Nevada’s housing market, why it’s healthier than in years past, and what that means for the professional athletes looking for the right neighborhood to settle down. In conversations with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices president and COO Gordon Miles, and Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors President Dave Tina, I learned which parts of town – and more specifically, which master-planned neighborhoods – would appeal to athletes earning the NHL minimum wage ($650,000 for the 2017-2018 season), as well as those pulling in multi-million dollars salaries. In both interviews, we also talked about the incoming Raiders players, when that team relocates from Oakland to Las Vegas.

“Vegas Golden Knights Finds Its Home Team Spots” is a quick roundup of seven places where fans can watch the new hockey team outside of T-Mobile Arena.
“Vegas Golden Knights Finds Its Home Team Spots”

“Vegas Golden Knights Finds Its Home Team Spots” is a quick roundup of seven places where fans can watch the new hockey team outside of T-Mobile Arena. I didn’t say “outside of their homes” because southern Nevada’s only cable provider doesn’t currently carry the network on which the Golden Knights games will air. That’s a contentious issue right now for fans, and discussions are ongoing. With the puck dropping October 10 at T-Mobile Arena, people are starting to get anxious, but if you feel like watching the team in a fan-friendly atmosphere, this story will give you some options.

The August 24 issue of Vegas Seven is online and on newsstands now.