Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas in Las Vegas

As you prepare for Christmas and all the holiday traditions, take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of the season. And nowhere is that more present than in Vegas -- Bethlehem with slots. Here's my holiday travelogue from a few Decembers ago. Gather up the whole family and enjoy.

Deb and I just got back from a brief weekend in Las Vegas, or, as I like to call it, "Three Card Monty for the Red States". Many big attractions there this holiday weekend. The annual rodeo, the Anti-Aging conference, the Jose Luis Castillo/Joel Casamayer title bout. But we were there to see Linda Eder. Ms. Eder is a spectacular singer -- Barbra Streisand but at affordable prices and you never have to suffer through "Evergreen". We've become friends with her manager, Dave, who graciously invited us to join him for her concert. Since we likely would have gone to Vegas for Christmas anyway, we gladly accepted.

Stayed at the Mandalay Bay. Dave is also a VP of something for the House of Blues (who knows more about the blues than the Jews?) and arranged for us to get a room on the "House of Blues" floor. It had the two things Debby and I require in a hotel room -- a fabulous view and voodoo decor.

I'm not joking about the annual Anti-Aging conference. But 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.

Had dinner Friday night at Rumjungle in the hotel. Very classy. Girls dance in cages above your head. To me that is classy. To Vegas it's positively elegant.

Interesting crowd at the hotel because of all the special events. A lot of shitkickers (I assume for either the rodeo or "Mamma Mia") and the prizefight attracted several hundred Ruben Studdards decked out in jewelry and Oakland Raider sweatsuits. Rode in an elevator with one -- a mean looking dude in black sunglasses. He said, "you here for the fuckin' fight, man?" I sheepishly had to say "No, the Linda Eder concert". I'm lucky I'm still alive.

This week a boxing title match, next week an ice spectacular featuring American Idol loser Diana DeGarmo.

The headliner at the hotel was Larry the Cable Guy. If Shecky Green were dead he'd be rolling in his grave.

And as I said, a full Broadway production of "Mamma Mia", not to mention a separate "Mamma Mia" STORE. Someone had a great line about Abba. It's like being hit in the head with Ikea furniture. You appreciate the craftmanship but it hurts.

I won $20 in blackjack. Debby lost $.55 in the slots. I doubt if we'll be comped the next trip.

I think there were Christmas lights and decorations up all over town. Who could tell?

The waitresses were all attractive with massive chests. If there was a flood on the casino floor they would float to the surface.

The most beautiful girl I saw there was a parking valet attendant bundled in a heavy coat. If she got a boob job I'm sure she could get an inside job. Maybe Santa will be good to her.

Next day we hit the beach. Yes, Mandalay Bay has it's own beach. Unfortunately, the ocean was turned off. No waves. But Debby and I 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.

From there 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 on to the Bellagio, where Debby 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!" The paintings were glorious and it was just nice to be in the only room in Las Vegas where everybody voted for Kerry. I can only imagine the paintings Monet himself would have made had he been to Las Vegas. "The Imperial Palace as seen from the Luxor".

The highlight of the trip was the Linda Eder concert. It's the third time I've seen her. I realize that if I see her one more time I'm officially gay. But I don't care. That will happen in March when she performs in Northridge. The only problem was that her concert hall was impossible to find. It's somewhere on the UNLV campus -- the Jerry Tarkanian Music Hall, or something like that -- and even cab drivers have no idea where this is. Dave and I set out for the sound check. The venue is five minutes from our hotel but we wound up somewhere near the Mustang Ranch. The only map on how to get there was on the ticket envelope you pick up at the box office. But we ultimately found it and the concert was wonderful. Celine Dion can't carry her Chloraseptic.

Headed home early this morning. McCarran airport is the worst in the country re security checks. You actually DO have to allow two hours. It's bad enough you have to remove your shoes, but the spurs must come off too and that takes some time.

And now we're home, shopping for voodoo wallpaper.


This and other travelogues can be found in my book, WHERE THE HELL AM I? (TRIPS I HAVE SURVIVED) available here.  Ebook only $3.99.  It's the perfect gift for anyone who loves to travel or stay home. 


ScottyB said...

>>Next day we hit the beach. Yes, Mandalay Bay has it's own beach. Unfortunately, the ocean was turned off. No waves. But Debby and I 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.<<

That one bummed me out. Sounds like it could've been a 'Twilight Zone' episode (or even a 'Planet of the Apes' scene) where everything in nature dried up overnight and Vegas tried to replicate it.

Well, at least we still have Paris. And New York. All Vegas style.

Michael said...

Ken, even as a nearly lifelong Las Vegan, I was laughing. But actually the airport is bad at security checks only if they are inundated. Otherwise, granting that most of the security checks at most of the airports are silly, it's pretty good. The bad part, which you were lucky enough to miss, is that to get to passenger pickup if you are NOT in a shuttle or cab, you have to cross the line of taxis, which is a bit like the movie where Schwarzenegger is on a game show.

Date2Relate said...

I just tweeted your post to my Twitter followers. We remember your Orioles days with great fondness. All the best!

Hamid said...

That was a great read! I don't usually read travelogues but you've convinced me to buy yours. And to buy voodoo wallpaper.

Artie in Sin City said...

Live here in Sin City...A tad less hectic off the Strip...But where else can you hit the corner pub and have a SIX HUNDRED dollar cheeseburger...Damn machine! Happy Holidays big guy...Still have to read your new book...In the Kindle and ready to fire up...

Johnny Walker said...

I have a really interesting Friday question. In Sam Simon's amazing Emmy TV Legends interview, he talks about a character that was cut out of the Cheers pilot: A racist woman in a wheelchair. She was supposed to be a regular character, but apparently the Charles Bros/Burrows agreed that her harshness didn't gel with the rest of the show.

Do you know anything about this?

Dale said...

Ken. There is a really great band appearing at the Palms. Santa Fe and the fat city horns. If you get the urge to see some really good players cut loose, check them out.

Don Ho Ho Ho said...!! Hey, do you have any swatches of that wallpaper? Aloha.

DBenson said...

A friend who lives in Vegas reports it is home to a surprising number of marine biologists, sustained by the needs of all those giant aquariums.

Kerry Abdow said...

As I continue to do research for the sitcom pilot script that i am writing, I keep coming upon your blog posts. This one just cracked me up. Viva Las Vegas! Thanks for the inspiration.

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