‘Las Vegas’ Category

It’s not the ride, it’s the wait

December 21st, 2008
The Deuce rolls down Boulder Highway

The Deuce rolls down Boulder Highway

Call it the cheapest tour in town. You can ride Citizen Area Transit (CAT)’s Route 107 from College and Horizon Drives in Henderson straight into the heart of downtown Las Vegas and back for only $2.50.

The route cruises along Boulder Highway and, according to the transit guide, should only take about an hour. Along with nine other passengers, I paid my fare at 11:50 a.m. and took a front row seat on The Deuce, the gold-colored, double-decker bus that was originally used to pack more people on a single bus for Strip routes. It feels empty now, but before arriving at the Downtown Transportation Center (DTC), only a few seats remained unfilled.

I tried talking to people, but Boulder Highway travelers are not as used to seeing a camera around someone’s neck as are folks on the Strip. It fits the setting: Boulder Highway is a 15-mile long strip mall, complete with fast food joints, gas stations, motels, a smattering of casinos and used car lots.

The driver did his best to arrive at the DTC on time, but the rain, people with incorrect change and a couple wheelchairs added 20 minutes to the journey. I wasn’t in a hurry but the complaining murmurs I overheard—mostly about the wheelchairs—indicated some people did have places to go.

I wandered around Fremont Street for an hour, somehow resisting fried Twinkies, 99-cent daiquiris and the lure of a “free pull.”

At the DTC

At the DTC

Maneuvering through the human flotsam clogging up the sidewalks of the DTC caused me to miss the bus. It’s not their fault; not everyone falls through society’s cracks on purpose. I waited 15 minutes for the next bus, then hit the road again, getting a look at the other side of Boulder Highway. It’s the same. The barren lot that most recently was Castaways (and was once the Showboat) is still empty. The new sign marking the border of Las Vegas and Henderson that first beckoned “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” now reads “Drive Carefully Come Back Soon.”

Then hunger hit. I blame the signs proclaiming “Old Las Vegas Prices” at the Longhorn Casino. Try it sometime. You can get a decent—not fantastic, but better than the price suggests—steak dinner for $4.99. I told you, it’s the cheapest tour in town.

I finished my meal, headed out to the nearest stop … and waited. And waited. I must have once again barely missed one bus and had to wait about 20 minutes for the next.

When I got on, there was a woman asking if anyone had a day pass they wouldn’t be using again. The $2.50 pass is good for unlimited rides for 24 hours (replacing the outdated transfer slips). Hers must have been close to expiring. No one spoke up to offer any assistance and she exited the bus with a look of worry on her face.

I exited the bus at Boulder Highway and Lake Mead Parkway. Route 217 stops there and would get me to within a block of my house. It was 4:02 p.m. when I got off the 107. The 217 passed through this stop at 4:00.

The next time it came by was 5 p.m., proving the one major down point about riding the CAT buses anywhere in town: it isn’t the ride that sucks, it’s the wait.

And wait I did, for an hour. I probably could have walked home in the time it took to wait for the next bus, but my day pass was still valid and I intended to use it to its fullest. Plus, it was raining, and while walking in the rain is great some places, Las Vegas isn’t one of them. I arrived home at 5:15 p.m.

I spent two and a half hours on the bus and more than an hour and a half waiting for the bus. No one exposed themselves to me or smelled bad. Sure, a few people talked too loud, but overall, riding the bus is not as bad as many people make it seem.

Then again, waiting for the bus still sucks.

Drinking with the Dems on Election Night in Las Vegas

November 5th, 2008


Avoiding Election Day results in this age of information overload and constant connectivity isn’t an easy task. My plan was this: Avoid polling results until I got to the Nevada Democratic Party Election Night bash at the Rio All-Suites Hotel. I wanted to be surprised, I wanted to get caught up in the moment, I didn’t want to emotionally rise and fall throughout the hours leading up to the eventual declaration and concession.

I did pretty well. At about 5 p.m., an hour after polls closed on the East Coast, a friend started to tell me how many electoral votes were called for Sen. Barack Obama. I shut her up quickly. When I got home, I avoided radio and internet, going straight into the kitchen to make dinner and absorbing no more information beyond a 20-year-old comic book. Before leaving for the Rio, I logged onto Twitter to announce my destination. And that’s when I caught the page full of tweets relaying the news that Ohio had been called for Obama. That could have been the end right there.

Driving in my car on surprisingly quiet streets, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was being interviewed on NPR. This is a man who helped lead the Civil Rights Movement, who marched right along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was beaten by a white mob in his youth. Listening to him talk brought the first of a number of tears last night to my eyes.

obama_tieI submitted a request for credentials to the party at the Rio’s Pavilion meeting rooms, but ended up not needing any. This celebration was open to the public, and boy, did the public turn out. Say what you will about party politics, but one thing I’ve noticed in attendance at both Obama rallies and this Election Night party is that the Democratic base is the definition of diverse: All colors, ages, creeds, sizes, shapes and abilities were represented in the Brasilia Ballroom. This is what America looks like.

A giant screen projected a live broadcast from MSNBC, while smaller, flat screen monitors scattered throughout the massive ballroom displayed live reports from Fox News, CNN and the like. One section of the room was specifically designated for the hearing, mobility and sight impaired, complete with sign language interpreters and handicap accommodations. Cash bars were well distributed throughout the room, and a decent appetizer buffet set behind the press riser fed a hungry line all night.

There were important local and state races all around, including two U.S. Congressional seats, a number of State Assembly seats and a County Commission opening. But it was obvious why the party was flooded with people – obvious by their T-shirts, buttons, signs, accessories and banners: Last night was all about Barack Obama. Every time the giant screen displayed another winning state called for Obama, the crowd cheered. Actually, the crowd may have just cheered every time someone bought a drink. It was hard to tell. The sheer jubilance in the room was energizing.

But that feeling of anticipation I’d hoped for was all but impossible to attain. I arrived just a little after 7 p.m., and already Obama had 207 votes to Sen. John McCain’s 130 or so. And polls had still not closed on the West Coast. At about 7:30, I remarked to a friend that this thing would be over by 10 p.m. I should have put money on that.

Somewhere about 8:30, a Democratic Party official climbed behind the podium on the stage beneath the giant screen to make an announcement: The room was at capacity – those who were present needed to stay there, and no more folks were being let into the Brasilia Ballroom. Already an overflow room across the hall was being used. And then, as the speaker was talking mundanely about which restrooms for guests to use, it happened.

The room erupted. Screams and shouts and claps and cries and tears and hugs. That could mean only one thing, of course. And sure enough, as I peered through the throng of bodies between me and the nearby television, I saw the numbers on screen: Obama suddenly had somewhere in the neighborhood of 287 votes. The West Coast must have reported. It happened so quickly, so suddenly, it almost didn’t feel real. (more…)

Neon Outlook: Halloween 2008 in Las Vegas, Part Two

October 28th, 2008

Jello wrestling
Jell-O wrestling at McFadden’s has nothing to do with Halloween. We just wanted to use the picture. Good costume idea, though, huh?

It seems like mere seconds after we posted our round-up preview of concerts, parties and events that may be worth checking out this Halloween, a whole new batch of Vegas-tastic on-goings appeared. So we’ll forgo the niceties and dive right in. You only have three days left, so make your plans now.

Revolution Lounge at the Mirage: “Pretty in Pink Halloween” featuring resident DJ Minor spinning mash-ups, hip-hop and Top 40. A pretty-in-pink-themed costume contest will find the top five pink ladies walking away with P.I.N.K. vodka gift boxes worth a total of $5000 in cash and prizes. Doors at 10 p.m., complimentary P.I.N.K. vodka for the ladies until midnight. $20 cover for men, $10 for visiting ladies and free for local women.

Rok Vegas at New York-New York: Carmen Electra hosts Rok’s first Halloween bash with her fiancee, former Korn guitarist Rob Patterson spinning a special DJ set.

Adventuredome at Circus Circus: Fright Dome closing night, 7 p.m. to midnight, featuring 23 rides and attractions, Lady Diable and her Xtreme Sideshow, Scare Zones, a stunt show and acclaimed haunted houses.

New York-New York: “Screamers – The Haunted Bridge” turns the hotel and casino’s Brooklyn Bridge replica into a terrifying haunted house. Admission is $20 per person, $15 for hotel guests and open to all ages (children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult). Open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

PT’s/Sierra Gold: Second Annual Wicked Costume Contest at 7 p.m., all 36 locations, featuring Bud, Bud Light and Bacardi specials. One winner from each bar will receive $100 cash.

SushiSamba at the Palazzo: “Spooky KaBOOki” Halloween celebration featuring DJ Dracula, free Japanese candy, cocktail and desert specials, and a costume contest with a grand prize trip for two to Miami and dinner at SushiSamba.

McFadden’s at the Rio: Drink with the Devil with free admission for guests in costume, drink specials and a $1000 cash prize for overall best costume, plus bar tabs for “sexiest,” “scariest,” “most Irish” and “dirtiest Devil” winning costumes. $10 for women and $20 for men gets an open bar from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay: Haunted Reef from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Open to all ages – children under 12 in costume receive free admission. Guests 17 or older donating at the United Blood Services booth from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. receive complimentary entry as well.

Tao at the Venetian: Third annual Taolloween party hosted by Tera Patrick at 10 p.m. Music by DJs Reach and Hideo.

Frankie’s getting Tiki-rific makeover

October 27th, 2008

If there’s any one person who knows how to turn dirt into gold, it’s P. Moss, owner of the Double Down Saloon. He made his “Happiest Place on Earth” – really, the diviest of Las Vegas dive bars – into an internationally renowned punk rock icon, so much that it warranted a second location opening in New York City’s Bowery just a few years back.

So it stands to reason that when Moss re-opens the former Frankie’s Bar & Cocktail Lounge (1712 W. Charleston Blvd.) on Dec. 4 as Frankie’s Tiki Room, we’ll no doubt be in the presence of another truly legendary Vegas watering hole. The bar proprietor’s latest acquisition will be getting a full overhaul, according to Moss pal and local editor and writer James Reza.

“Moss assures me that this is no half-assed superficial remodel,” Reza writes on his blog. “This is the first serious tiki bar in Vegas since Taboo Cove at the Venetian closed. These design cats have connections to the Stardust’s Aku Aku and Disneyland’s Tiki Room.”

Stay tuned for more information as the opening date gets closer; until then, bookmark the Frankie’s Tiki Room website, still under construction.

Excuse me, sir, there’s a Tila in my (Tacos &) Tequila!

October 23rd, 2008

Tila Tequila
A match made in naming heaven. (Photos by Erik Kabik | RETNA)

I get invited – and attend – a lot of grand openings, media events and VIP parties. You don’t read about a lot of that stuff here because, well, that would somewhat defy VEGASinsight’s mission to reveal the side of Las Vegas behind the neon. So you don’t need me to tell you about last night’s grand opening of Tacos & Tequila (T&T) at the Luxor. You likely have no interest in reading about Tila Tequila, Criss Angel or Carrot Top posing on a red carpet for photos and not much more.

But then I got to thinking that writing about just the banality of these type of events might make for interesting fodder, and since one of the key elements of this site is “commentary,” well, who am I not to deliver the goods?

T&T is located on the atrium level of the Luxor, separated from the other new-ish makeover attempts in the once-Egyptian-themed resort such as Company American Bistro, CatHouse and LAX. So that means this “rock ‘n’ roll” Mexican-style restaurant is mere steps away from the Luxor’s wedding chapel, people hawking “rides” on magic carpets and the 15-year-old motion ride “In Search of the Obelisk.” Did we mention that not six months ago, a La Salsa was standing where T&T now resides – and not much outside of the décor has changed?

It’s impossible to assess the quality, service or atmosphere of a restaurant at one of these red-carpet events. I can’t tell you anything about T&T’s food, because of the few different plates being passed around at the opening, none of which were friendly to my palate (or diet), and though no one said anything bad about the taquitos and tacos, no one said anything outstanding either.

Coming soon to NBC: \"Douchebag and The Troll\"See, this is what happens at these events: The same group of local guest-listers – a combination of power players, public relations types, publishers, industry execs and lifestyle personalities such as myself, I suppose – get invited, show up, drink a lot of free liquor, eat a few hors d’oeuvres and schmooze it up a bit. Meanwhile, typically B- and C-list celebrities are invited to “attend,” which usually means “show up to pose for a few pictures on the red carpet and then bail.” Last night’s crop included “host” Tila Tequila, Rashida Ali, Thunder from Down Under, Mosaic, Zowie Bowie and the Luxor’s resident stable of entertainers: Carrot Top, the girls of Fantasy and Criss Angel. One has to wonder if those Luxor stage-dwellers have mandatory appearances at these events written into their contracts, because I have yet to attend a Luxor VIP event at which all of them have not appeared. Then again, really, in this city, Carrot Top is allegedly A-list talent. Anywhere else, he’s a half-forgotten joke, at best.

Thankfully, I don’t do red carpets. Here in Las Vegas, they’re not like Los Angeles or New York events, where the real celebrities actually stop and talk to entertainment reporters. Instead, a gaggle of photographers and videographers crowd up to the velvet rope like cattle in a corral, snapping images and rolling footage for whatever wire service, tabloid publication or TV gossip show by which they’re hired. I don’t envy what they do – waiting hours for 10 minutes worth of work, and then in most cases being shunned from entering the party before having to rush home to dump hundreds of photos onto hard drives in order to meet overnight deadlines. I’ve “done” one red carpet, which consisted of standing around for a few hours with other increasingly impatient and cranky radio, TV and print reporters, ultimately leaving before any alleged celebrities showed up. That was it for me.

Mind you, experiences such as these aren’t bad (usually) in the least bit. It’s an investment in good press – the public relations firms know what they’re doing: Invite the right people, get ‘em drunk, give ‘em food, surround them with celebrities, and surely they’ll write and say nice things about the restaurant/nightclub/whatever that is opening. It’s just become such an expectedly absurd process, I kind of figured telling you fine people about that is much more entertaining than simply posting a gallery of photos of the above-listed proto-celebs and adding a snarky little caption.

And maybe we’ll go back to T&T soon and actually tell you about the restaurant.

Separated at birth?

October 3rd, 2008

Both the Las Vegas Weekly and CityLife — Sin City’s dueling “alternative” weekly newspapers — ran tongue-in-cheek nightclubbing “glossaries” in their respective publications this week.

The Weekly‘s went for the throat, taking direct jabs at specific people in the scene with most of the definitions — including (and especially) it’s own staff (i.e., the article’s authors). Specific targets include nightlife photographer Jeremy Womack (“The Womack: any nightclub photo pose that involves a combination of winking, sticking out your tongue and doing something naughty with your fingers”), Weekly nightlife editor Xania Woodman (“Single and Ready to Mingle: Battle cry of the recently divorced or broken-up; a giddy, wild-child phase of personal rediscovery”) and Weekly writer Deanna Rilling (“Pseudosocialite: Someone who works within the industry and has connections with many important people, but doesn’t give a rat’s ass about carrying the latest overpriced handbag or owning a miniature dog”).

CityLife, meanwhile, went for more cerebral humor with its daffy-nitions, broadly painting nightlife stereotypes and concepts. Highlights include “the list” (“The list may also contain ‘phantom’ names, invisible to the eye, but still there according to their owners. I know it’s on there — I talked to Brandon or Brendon or Random or somebody — can you check it again?”), “VIP host, mohawked” (“same as VIP host, but less pleasant, more aggressively scheming, and with an especially troubled history of not having measured up in high school”) and “bottle service” (“a special ‘premium’ service in which patrons agree to purchase … a bottle of high-quality liquor for as much as 20 times the amount they would pay with their VonsClub card”).

Knowing the authors of both articles, it is remotely possible each camp knew of the other’s intentions, though it’s not terribly likely. Still, it was an interesting bit of synchronicity between the two publications. But though we’d usually go with the CityLife‘s more mature approach, I have to be honest here: The Weekly‘s is a hell of a lot more fun. And it has cute illustrations. People love cute illustrations, right?

Note: Thanks to CityLife A&E editor Mike Prevatt for correcting our original assertion that both articles appeared in their respective publications’ nightlife issues. The Weekly’s nightlife issue came out a month after the CityLife‘s.

FAIL: Survivor doesn’t live up to its name in Las Vegas

August 21st, 2008

Get a good look at this Eye of the Tiger. It’s as much as you’re going to get, now that this weekend’s Survivor concert at the House of Blues Las Vegas has been canceled. Yep, if you were among those who purchased tickets to see ’80s hair rock band Survivor play their hits, um — did they have another hit besides “Eye of the Tiger?” — on Sunday, Aug. 24, go back to the box office and get your wastedhard-earned money back. Of course, if there were any ticket holders, I guess the HOB wouldn’t have canceled, huh?

That now makes four HOB August shows that have been canceled or rescheduled. Maybe our local blogging friend Mr. Davis was right — maybe rock is dead in Las Vegas!

LICD pwns Las Vegas

August 11th, 2008

The protagonists of Ryan Sohmer’s online comic strip, Least I Could Do, are on vacation in Las Vegas during its current story arc. Aside from spot-on satirical jabs at high hotel fees and drunken pool-goer behavior, Sohmer uses his characters to make not-so-subtle commentary on the rampant waste of water in a desert city for such luxuries as misters:

least i could do

You really need to click on the image above to read the sad-but-true punchline ending of today’s strip.

M Resort tops off, tells economy: ‘What recession? We’re just fine’

August 11th, 2008

All smiles on the South Strip.

Defying both current economic trends and laughing in the face of recent construction delays at other certain Las Vegas resorts, Marnell Corrao Associates topped off the $1 billion M Resort, Spa and Casino on Friday.

“This is a major milestone in our construction process,” said Chairman and CEO Anthony A. Marnell, III. “We anticipate completing the M Resort on time and on budget and are excited to debut the new property in March 2009.”

If Marnell’s boasts prove true, next spring we’ll see the boutique resort open at the corner of South Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway with 390 guest rooms, nine restaurants, more than 60,000 square feet of meeting space, a 23,000-square-foot spa and — get this — more than 100,000 square feet of outdoor accomodations including pool and an events piazza. Boutique, my ass.

The Happenings, Aug. 7: Being cool, uncovering an explosive past

August 7th, 2008

fab 5 freddy
Yo! I’m Fab 5 Freddy, and I approve this dope message.

Bored in Las Vegas and looking for something to do tonight? We’ve uncovered a few diverse options for your perusal:

“The Cool” at Ice House Lounge (650 S. Main St.) at 10 p.m. Awthentix Music and Solprintz Inc. present Yo! MTV Raps Appreciation Night — late-’80s and early-’90s hip-hop, R&B and soul music including a live band playing classic breaks from 1988 to 1995. Cover is $7 until 11 p.m., $10 after and ladies are free. 21-over.

“Untold Stories” at Las Vegas Springs Preserve
(333 S. Valley View Blvd.) at 7 p.m. Sen. Richard Bryan, Dina Titus and scientist Al O’Donnell present “In The Shadow of the Bomb,” featuring untold stories from the nuclear testing era in Nevada. Tickets are $12, $10 for Springs Preserve members, $8.50 for children and free for the kids under 5.