Saturday, March 23, 2013

We'll always have Vegas

This is the first weekend of March Madness.   Several years ago me and a bunch of my insane friends went to Las Vegas for the four-day college basketball orgy.  To get you in the spirit, thought I'd share that travelogue again today.   This is just one of many humorous travel adventures you'll find in my book WHERE THE HELL AM I?  TRIPS I HAVE SURVIVED, available here for less money than you'll tip a dealer.
March 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.

There 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.

Matt 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.

The in-house 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.

Of 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 impersonator??

The Paris had "Arabian Nights Spectacular", something else to make the Jews feel comfortable.

Next 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 Vegas Avenue.

Somewhere in the great beyond Bugsy Siegal is saying “If this is what I ultimately created I deserved to be shot.”

From 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.

Then 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!"

One thing 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!

One 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.

Slater's 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.

Valerie/Karen's 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.

You're not 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.

Featured 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???

At 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


Michael said...

Pai Gow Poker is a form of poker brought to us by the Chinese, perhaps to repay us for some earlier slight. My dad was a casino dealer and learned how to deal it. The bosses at his casino had HIM teach the supervisors the game, then wouldn't promote him to be a supervisor. Tells you a lot.

Pacwest Wholesale said...

This was a spit-coffee-though-the-nose 5 times column...great stuff to put a morning smile on my face. Almost like a stand up routine, but that must be the Vegas lounge influence. Baddaboom. Now I have to buy your Trip book. Bought and loved the Me Generation book and bought copies for my 6 buddies from High School who all get together each year to celebrate our general birthdays. This year they'll get a copy of your book to go along with the Medicare cards we're all getting in the mail. Great stuff; always a highlight of the morning.

Mike Botula said...

If I remember correctly, there is a whole room devoted to Pai Gow at the Bell Gardens Casino. A slice of old Macau right in your own back yard.

Lorimartian said...

This was hysterical, Ken, especially, "One of those magic pills would be perfect for me. 35 1/2 hours to find a woman then a half hour to perform." I seriously think you could base a movie on this escapade.

OT: I was listening to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" this morning.
A new cereal that promotes a better sex life has been introduced in Canada (apparently true...that is has been introduced; jury is out re whether it works). The comics suggested alternative names for such cereal. My favorites were "Horney Bunches of Oats" and "Grope Nuts". Hilarious.

Janice said...

Eight years ago I worked as a cocktail waitress at The Paris. I worked with a girl who was gorgeous but was missing a front tooth. She explained that she only had enough money for a new tooth or a boob job, so she opted for the rack. Is it any wonder I could only last there six months?

Where I made easy money was at The Excalibur. I would show up at the $2-$5 Hold 'Em table at 2am. Wait for a 21-year-old kid to show up... ideally with a club stamp on the back of one hand and a drink in the other. He will no doubt keep drinking while he plays, and 15 minutes later I leave with a couple hundred bucks of his money. Easy mark.

Cap'n Bob said...

I read this when you first published the book but still laoghed out loud numerous times. You can't put down the French enough, I say.

RCP said...

Cap'n Bob said...

"You can't put down the French enough, I say."

Despite being part French myself, I get where the humor is coming from and find it funny - since I don't take it seriously - but I'm still curious: Exactly how many of 'The French' have you actually met, Cap'n?

(and don't say 'Enough.')