Plus, gooey caterpillar soup
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Hey Las Vegas by City Cast

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Tuesday, May 23

99° F


71° F

Good morning! Here’s a little something to put on your to-do list, at least if you’re a fan of “Stranger Things.” The Showcase Mall on the Strip will host a “Stranger Things” pop-up — merch, sets from the show — starting Friday and running through 2024.

What Las Vegas's Talking About

Nice Stopgap, Water Officials!

California, Arizona, and Nevada have finally reached the beginning stages of a three-year agreement to reduce water use. But at 3 million acre-feet, the states are cutting far less than what the federal government asked for. Some say this is a “Band-Aid solution,” and others call it a bridge to bigger steps — because the real task will be figuring out what to do after 2026. [Nevada Independent]

Rabies — Still a Thing

The state’s first confirmed case of rabies this year has turned up, and, perhaps surprisingly, it was nowhere near the Capitol complex in Carson City. It was in a bat found here in Clark County — a timely reminder not to touch any non-baseball bats. (And vax your pets!) Officials say Nevada averages 10-20 rabies cases a year. [KLAS]

Yearbook Problems

The high-profile private Meadows School is recalling its yearbook — it seems an anonymous quote allegedly submitted by a student was actually uttered by George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party. The quote: “Being prepared to die is one of the great secrets of living.” Whatever, Nazi. Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who started the school, had no comment. [Review-Journal]

Urban Almanac: Butterfly Habitat

Photo of a butterfly sitting on an orange slice.

And to think this beauty was once "caterpillar soup." (Scott Dickensheets/City Cast Las Vegas)

Thursday through next Monday is your last chance to float through the Butterfly Habitat at Springs Preserve — it closes May 29. Sure, you can see butterflies in the wild, or in your backyard, but our desert rarely offers them up in such soothing abundance. Each one is a living treatise on transformation, fragility, fleeting beauty, and resilience.

What makes them such potent symbols of change is, of course, what happens in the cocoon: They enter as caterpillars and emerge utterly different. My inner 12-year-old thrills to the gross details: Inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar essentially digests itself, releasing enzymes that dissolve its tissues into a protein-rich DNA gumbo: “If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out.” Then the butterfly forms out of the goo. (A lot like struggling through a bad hangover on a work morning, not that I would know.) It’s a scientifically fascinating process.

The dissolving isn’t always total — some caterpillar species have nascent wings tucked into their bodies pre-cocoon. And one study suggests certain moths can “remember what they learned in later stages of their lives as caterpillars.” My inner 12-year-old’s mind is blown. So see the butterflies before they’re gone.

3 Questions With Shwa Laytart of Avantpop Bookstore

Avantpop Boostore and its owners, Sugar and Shwa

Avantpop Boostore and its owners, Sugar and Shwa. (Avantpop Bookstore)

Last week’s Deadmau5-headlined event in Commercial Center was touted as an effort on Clark County’s part to spur new interest in the struggling outdoor mall. While the county appears content with the results, some of the center’s small merchants insisted that intrusive event fencing, confusing logistics, and other factors actually hurt their businesses. The owners of Avantpop Bookstore felt compelled to run an online fundraiser to recoup their losses. I talked with Shwa Laytart, who co-owns the shop with his wife Sugar.

What was the upshot from the block party for your store?

We lost money. We had a total of five sales. (Organizers) had not only the fence, but we had ambulances and police cars all parked in front of our building. If there were people looking to walk around the fence to our shop, it was a little intimidating. So most people avoided us. (Organizers) built the fire-breathing octopus right in front of us, which caused a toxic smell from fumes of gas, so we had customers leaving. It affected us financially big time. That was what was most disappointing — the whole thing was supposed to bring business to us, and instead they threw a big party.

They're claiming they're going to do another one of these in August. Let's see how that turns out.

You had an online fundraiser and people responded — you met your goal.

We knew the whole time that we were here for the community and the community is here for us. And we're very thankful. It's definitely going to help. My wife and I have yet to take a paycheck; we're just barely scraping by. We used to have savings, you know. (Laughs.) But we still love working with our community. That's what we're here for, and we're just stoked that the community knows it.

What role do you want Avantpop to play in the city’s cultural scene?

For us, as a small publishing house as well, our goal is to help give voice to those who might not get a big book deal, or might not get their art in a gallery. There's some amazing talent in Las Vegas. And we want to help elevate that.

What to Do

💻 ‘Taking Down Gotti’ | Wednesday | 7 p.m.

This event is sold out, but if you want to see a federal prosecutor talk about busting Gotti, stream the conversation at the link. [Mob Museum, free stream]

🍓 Strawberry Festival Farmers Market | Wednesday | 2-8 p.m.

Fresh strawberries! Nothing else needs to be said. [Bruce Trent Park, Rampart and Vegas Drive, free admission]

🪤 ‘Dismayland: Tales from the Park’ | Thursday-Sunday | various times

From theater impresario Troy Heard comes a bracing set of 10 playlets and monologues reveling in the dark side of Disney. Leave the kids at home! [Majestic Repertory Theatre, $30]

Today on City Cast Las Vegas

Image of Sonja wearing headphones holding up a mic to interview Patti, a pickleball player in a bright orange tank top, holding a paddle.

City Cast Las Vegas' Sonja Cho Swanson gets the pickleball download from Patti Chess. (Loren Swanson)

Pickleball Is Tearing Us Apart!

Because it uses a slow-moving whiffle ball, the sport allows players of all ages and skill levels to play together. So more courts are being built. But because it uses a hard paddle, pickleball makes what many find an irritating thwock. Could this noise drive down your home values? America is choosing sides! Pickleball ambassador Patti Chess explains the sport to lead producer Sonja Cho Swanson.

Thwock! Thwock!

Lastly today, you may have seen that video of a guy dropping a basketball through a hoop from way up the Strat, and wondered, How many tries did that take? About 900, it turns out. Hope he’s still around when the Golden State Warriors move here. 🏀 See you tomorrow!

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