I've gotten a number of emails from readers asking for more travelogues. The problem is I haven't traveled much this year. But to fill your request (and plug my book of travelogues, WHERE THE HELL AM I? TRIPS I HAVE SURVIVED, available here) I am reposting one from 2003. This was the time a bunch of us idiots went to Vegas for the first week of March Madness.
Madness has arrived again -- the NCAA basketball tournament. Thus the
annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for me and three of my middle aged sports
nerd television executive buddies. Slater, the Banger, and Mr.
Syracuse. Slater brought his girlfriend (who goes by either Karen or
Valerie -- long story) thus increasing his chances of "getting lucky" by
maybe 1%. Mr. Syracuse brought his wife thus decreasing his chances. My
son, Matt flew in from Boston. He's now 21 so what better way to see
Las Vegas for the first time than with his dad and three guys who look
like the Pep Boys?
We stayed this year at the Paris Hotel. The
theme is French hospitality (an oxymoron). I'm sure I would have been
given a nicer room if I registered as Himmler. The casino features a low
ceiling that is painted to look like the sky, a la the Pirates of the
Caribbean ride at Disneyland. It's an odd shade of blue however, one
that suggests nuclear winter. There are cobblestone streets and
carpeting. A replica LePont Alendre III bridge overlooks the nickel slot
machines, and there is an Eiffel Tower that is fifty stories high.
Tours are offered. There is a sign at the entrance that reads "No food,
beverages, smoking, weddings" (true story).
I don't know why
these hotels opt for these elaborate themes. The truth is: NO ONE CARES.
People schlepp around in t-shirts and shorts and flip flops. If I ever
put up a hotel in Las Vegas I would use as my theme the HOME DEPOT.
was an Anti-Aging conference in town. Am I the only one who finds it
odd to hold an Anti-Aging conference in the one place where people stay
up all hours drinking, gorging, smoking, and enduring the enormous
stress of losing their money? I guess it's held there out of respect for
Joan Rivers. My feeling is if the President of the Anti-Aging
organization isn't 117 then it's a sham.
and I went to Le Cafe for breakfast. They said "inside or outside?"
What??? Outside of course meant under the sky painted ceiling. We
chanced that it wouldn't rain and took the outside.
cable had a channel that spelled out emergency exit procedures. Leave it
the French to provide a surrender strategy.
Remember when Frank
Sinatra used to play Vegas? This weekend it was Carrot Top and (at the
Riviera) "America's Tribute to Neil Diamond". Not even the real Neil
Diamond, an impersonator. In two weeks the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
(true) will be appearing. I'd love to see Shecky Green open for them.
course you could always pay a gazillion dollars to see Celine Dion
screech out five songs a night. Or is that just a Barbra Streisand
The Paris had "Arabian Nights Spectacular", something else to make the Jews feel comfortable.
morning before the games, Matt and I hit the beach. Mandalay Bay has
it's own beach. Unfortunately, the ocean was turned off. No waves. But
we took a long walk along the grid that serves as the shore and gazed
out at the horizon to see the Lance Burton Magician billboard on Las
Somewhere in the great beyond Bugsy Siegal is saying “If this is what I ultimately created I deserved to be shot.”
the Mandalay Bay we hotel hopped. Had to stop in at the Excalibur -- a
casino in Sleeping Beauty's castle. This is home to the black socks,
shorts, and wife beater shirt crowd. You know you're in trouble when
they have a special parking lot just for motorhomes. Handing a pair of
dice to one of these idiots is like handing a gun to a monkey.
it was on to the Bellagio, where Matt and I checked out the Monet
exhibit at their fine arts gallery. (How can you go to Vegas and not
stop in a museum??) I imagine when most of the tourists saw the ad for
the exhibit they said, "Hey, they spelled money wrong!"
you can say about Vegas, it has the most amazingly beautiful women in
the world. And so where did we spend 90% of our time? At the Sportsbook,
the one place that none of them would ever be caught dead in. There
were 48 games in four days. At times four were going on simultaneously.
I'm betting on teams I've never heard of. The place was packed with
rowdy men and good old boys chugging long neck beers. We ordered White
Russians, Tequila Sunrises, and Rusty Nails. No one fucked with us!
hazard: you see the same commercial seventeen thousand times.
Especially the one for "Cialis", designed to keep a man ready for 36
hours. Too bad I'm not single. One of those magic pills would be perfect
for me. 35 1/2 hours to find a woman then a half hour to perform.
The Banger bet on exhibition baseball. Even Pete Rose never did that.
In keeping with the theme, French accordion music came out of the urinals. Finally, the correct venue for that music.
Elegant dining = no Keno boards.
girlfriend Valerie/Karen is vegan, which means there are only six
things she can eat and she's allergic to four of them. She and Slater
are the two nicest people on the planet but I have dubbed them
"America's Waiter Killer Couple". Slater switches every table and sends
back every order while Valerie/Karen has the kitchen prepare items not
on the menu every meal. I’m afraid to eat with them. The cook or waiter
might spit in my food.
back was bothering her so she toted around a pillow to make sitting
more comfortable. But a hot girl walking through the casino with a
pillow -- she looked like a hooker who advertised.
allowed to use your cellphone in the Sportsbook. And I so wanted to make
reservations for the “Curt Kobain on Ice” show at the Aladdin.
at the Paris Hotel: drinks in plastic Eiffel Tower glasses. $12.50
(true). There was a line. I wonder how many of those people thought they
were buying the "actual" Eiffel Tower?
What is Pai Gow poker???
the end of the weekend all of us either made a little money or broke
even, Stanford and Kentucky got eliminated, and the waiters at the Paris
hotel got together and paid for Slater's cab to the airport. It was
great great fun. And I picked up a new name:
Kenny "the OTHER gambler" Levine