Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Viva Las Vegas

Hello. Back from Las Vegas where I had a speaking engagement as a fundraiser for the Doberman Rescue of Nevada. He hasn’t worked since THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW. Stayed at New York New York. You never know when you might bump into Sondheim at the quarter slots.

Less than 40% of Vegas income now comes from gaming. The big $$$$ these days is in nightclubs and now dayclubs – crazy decadent hotel pool parties, where Jesse Pinkman and his goofball friends from BREAKING BAD can lose fortunes of drug money, destroy their livers, and still not get laid.

Lots of New Yorkers stay at New York, New York. Why? The inside is supposed to duplicate Manhattan but it looks like Sesame Street during nuclear winter. And I’m not sure nature lovers will be fooled by the Central Park themed casino.

Haven’t you native NY’ers ever wanted to go to Europe? Paris is only a block away.

Oops. The U.S. postal stamp of the Statue of Liberty was based on the Las Vegas replica, not the real one. You’ll notice on the stamp Lady Liberty looks more like a showgirl than the original. Lawsuits are pending.

I requested a quiet room, and was given one… except when the Big Apple roller coaster went by every two minutes with people screaming their brains out.

Meanwhile, Celine Dion is back in residency at Caesar’s. She hits that high note in “All By Myself” and windows shatter nightly in the Octavius tower.

The Linq Hotel has a Ferris wheel larger than the one in London. Good luck to the folks in rooms near that behemoth. Each pod has its own bar and can hold up to forty drunks. Must be real fun when those suspended pods start swaying. Forget the noise; you don’t want to be walking underneath that thing.

The Linq is the old Imperial Palace (and the former Quad Resort). Gone are the “enterdealers” or “dealertrainers” or whatever the hell they were called. Stevie Wonder is no longer dealing blackjack. But the auto collection remains. I wonder if the big attraction is still Hitler’s towncar. If you can’t see the fountains at the Bellagio or the erupting volcano at the Mirage at least you can catch der Fuhrer’s ride.

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Security at the Linq is very tight.  You don't want to mess with one of these guys.  

At one time Sinatra was a headliner. Now it’s the ventriloquist from AMERICA’S GOT TALENT.

Of course the Trump hotel has the word TRUMP prominently emblazoned everywhere. In a gambling town why advertise LOSER?

New to Vegas to help class up the joint: A replica of the famous Manneken Pis bronze sculpture of a little boy urinating. It’s now proudly peeing in front of the D Hotel downtown. After midnight you can see real people doing it.

The Aria Hotel offers an hour-long “indoor hike” through its casino, facilities, and shops. Las Vegas -- your healthy getaway.

Went on two local TV morning shows to promote my appearance. My 6:00 AM wake up call was the rollercoaster. On one show the two co-hosts asked the audience to vote on their favorite breakfast food. Matzo brei did not make the top five. I followed a cowboy promoting barrel races. We had so much to discuss in the green room.

Treasure Island has discontinued its live mermaid show. The ship is gone, replaced by a CVS. Is there no Historical Society in Las Vegas?

My idea for a theme hotel: Woodstock. Buy an empty field, charge people $200 a night to sleep on the ground in the dirt, erect a stage, and hire Ten Years After and Sha-Na-Na to play twelve-hour sets.

There are walkway bridges on the strip and sidewalks bordered by wrought-iron fences to keep pedestrians off the street. And yet, one or two pickled cretins are hit by cars a week. Typical last words have been: “Parr-tayyy!” “Whoooo!” and “Hey, which one of these is Hitler’s car?”

Sheri’s Ranch in nearby Pahrump, Nevada stages concerts along with its brothel activity. So when wives check credit card bills husbands can say they were there for a show. Wives might still be wary. “You spent $1,000 to see Paul Revere and the Raiders?”

If you go to the “Divas,” female impersonator show at the Linq you get a coupon for a free buffet and you can see a Britney Spears impersonator who is probably better than the real Britney Spears appearing across the street at Planet Hollywood.

But wait! There’s also a Prince tribute show (or is it “the artist known as the impersonator of the artist known as Prince”?), a Michael Jackson tribute show (for adults 9 and older), Sinatra tribute show (this guy is such a good mimic he even roughs people up like Frank), Bee Gees tribute show (which should be called “Stayin’ Alive”), and Four Seasons tribute show (JERSEY BOYS). I spoke at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts. Good turnout but I’m sure more would have attended if a Ken Levine impersonator had appeared instead.

The 14th floor pool has reopened at the Cosmopolitan Hotel following its recent pool fire. The fake palm trees and cabanas went up faster than a Ford Pinto. Note to poolside partygoers: Yell “Fire!” not “Awesome!” Guests on higher floors went out to their balcony to watch the blaze and smoke got sucked into their rooms thus setting off the smoke alarms resulting in several floors being evacuated. I personally, might not have waited for the alarms to flee the 30th floor in a hotel fire.

Uber is coming soon to Las Vegas. No official start date has been announced but they should be hitting pedestrians within the next few weeks.

The Hash House a Go Go at the Linq is the Hungry Heifer with Snickers flapjacks.

Which reminds me, Mariah Carey is back soon, but only an impersonator can now fit into her gowns.

Cirque de Soleil has a show in every hotel except Circus Circus.

There’s a Dean Martin Drive that intersects with Jerry Lewis Way. On that corner is a pawnshop. You’d think there’d be a bar and clown college.

Drove by Wayne Newton’s Casa de Shenandoah estate (which is surrounded by pod malls. Wendy’s as far as the eye could see.) Newton has fallen on hard times financially and has been forced to sell his beloved garish complex. Among his debts: $600,000 to the Oakland Airport for parking fees. Jesus, man, take the BART.

I miss the days when the mob owned Vegas and hotels weren’t fairy castles or pyramids, people dressed for the evening, being a VIP didn’t mean you earned rewards points, statues didn’t piss, slots paid off in coins, swimming pools were for swimming, casinos were quiet, and when Elvis came to town it was to film a movie; not marry people. Oh, and there was no crime. But as always, Vegas was great goofy fun. I lost dough but saved Dobermans.

For more of my travelogues, I suggest my book WHERE THE HELL AM I?  TRIPS I HAVE SURVIVED.  You can get a copy for only $3.99.  Here's where you go.  Help support this free blog and provide me the funds to go on other trips.  You'd be surprised how far one can go on $3.99. Thanks.


Bill Avena said...

"destroy their livers, and still not get laid." Ken Levine you wrote my life!

tvfats said...

You so bad...but your talk was enlightening...

Thanks for coming up our way...You are always welcome in Sin City...

Johnny Walker said...

I have a holiday booked to Vegas. I WAS looking forward to it :)

Matt said...

To be fair, the ventriloquist from America's Got Talent is awesome.

Michael said...

Oh, Ken, you should have let me give you a tour. Tsk tsk.

Mike said...

Artie Breyfogle: Thanks for coming up our way.
- was a line spoken by Julian Clary in the celluloid classic "Carry On Columbus" (1992). Two occupants sleeping at opposite sides of a long, narrow room. "If you get lonely, you can always come up my end." Culture.

Tudor Queen said...

Ken -

I make a wicked Matzo Brei. If you're ever in Tucson, let me know and I'll whip one up for you. We can discuss your book - I own it and have read it!

Anonymous said...

You stayed at NYNY and no review of its Shake Shack? I was hoping to get a West Coaster's take on a Wall St. darling.


By Ken Levine said...

Shake Shack was FANTASTIC. Loved the burger and loved the fries.

dgwphotography said...

Shake Shack is always the longest line at Citi Field...

I went to Las Vegas a few years ago with some coworkers from our Ohio office. When we walked by New York New York, one of them exclaimed, "Isn't that impressive?"

My reply? Not when you're used to seeing the real thing.

Victor Velasco said...

Aw Sarge, do I hafta?

Anonymous said...

I agree. Vegas was much, much, much better when the mob ran it. Much better clientele than the yahoos that go there now. The only thing that stays in Vegas now, is you're money.

Unknown said...

My parents spent a weekend in Vegas back in 1969. At the newly opened International, they saw Elvis, Ike & Tina Turner, and the Righteous Brothers, all in one night, and as a bonus, got to see Sinatra thrown out of the casino. My father agrees the mobbed-up Vegas was better.

GS in SF said...

It is always interesting reading your blog but today was especially fun as I was reading about Wayne Newton's plight and your advice while stepping onto my BART train. And as bad as Vegas can be, it is nothing compared to BART -- instead of pool parties with bikinis, music, sun, and fresh air you are stuffed into a train with way too many people, no A/C and bad odors. The only thing in common is that like casinos there are no clocks on the trains. I guess they, too, do not want you to be thinking about how late you really are.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

At the newly opened International, they saw Elvis, Ike & Tina Turner, and the Righteous Brothers, all in one night.

Their impersonators, or the real thing?

MikeK.Pa. said...

"I requested a quiet room, and was given one… except when the Big Apple roller coaster went by every two minutes with people screaming their brains out. Meanwhile, Celine Dion is back in residency at Caesar’s. She hits that high note in “All By Myself” and windows shatter nightly in the Octavius tower."
I'll take the roller coaster over Dion any day.

"At one time Sinatra was a headliner. Now it’s the ventriloquist from AMERICA’S GOT TALENT."
But, I hear he kills when MY WAY comes out of those wooden tonsils.

"Treasure Island has discontinued its live mermaid show. The ship is gone, replaced by a CVS."
No more Jolly Roger, but you can pick up a box of Jolly Ranchers.

"Wives might still be wary. “You spent $1,000 to see Paul Revere and the Raiders?”
Doubly suspicious since Paul's been dead nearly a year.

"Bee Gees tribute show (which should be called “Stayin’ Alive."
Ironic since Barry is the only one of the four performing brothers still alive.

"Note to poolside partygoers: Yell “Fire!” not “Awesome!”
Awesome - the most overused word by Millenials. Their generation's version of "cool" - the most overused word by Baby Boomers.

"You’d think there’d be a bar and clown college."
Most of the clown colleges have relocated to Washington, DC.

"I lost dough but saved Dobermans."
And the world is a little bit better because you did. Kids and canines. Anyone who helps either is OK in my book. Thanks for that and another enjoyable read.

mdv1959 said...

I don't think that's a security guard on the bike... it looks to me like they're hard at work on "Paul Blart III"

mmryan314 said...

Couldn't`agree with you more about the safety of Vegas of old and the comps. Tickets were comped forshows like Rickles etc and we didn`t have to wait in line-they told us from the tables when to go. Flying in to Vegas at that time ( early 70`s) we left the plane on the field and grabbed a cab.Vegas was Cowboy town then- I loved it. Hate it now.I prefer Reno.

Roger R. said...

Photo cap:
Glad to see Lance Armstrong has a gig.

Cap'n Bob said...

Great stuff, but you left out my favorite sight: illegal aliens on the sidewalks every 10 feet passing out flyers for "escorts."

Pat Reeder said...

When I first went to Vegas many moons ago, it was still run by the mob and was much nicer. A friend of a friend showed me around. He was in construction and very well-connected (he got Wayne Newton's best friend bumped from his front-row center table at a sold-out show to make room for us, THAT'S how well-connected). He explained how everything worked, the "marker" system, how you could tell how big a favor someone had done for somebody by how good a job he had, etc. He also said that you could walk down the Strip at 2 a.m., drunk and with cash hanging out of your pockets and nobody would touch you because robbing tourists was bad for business. He said someone had been robbing tourists a few months prior and before the police even got started, the suspect's body was found in a Dumpster.

The next time I went out, I brought my wife along, the mob was gone, they were trying to turn it into a kiddie land, and armed robbers were hitting casinos in broad daylight. Instead of cool cats and sexy dames in tuxes and cocktail gowns, it was all old, fat people in sweat pants. She was very disappointed. Sigh. If only the mob could run everything.

BTW, there are worse things to follow on a talk show than a rodeo cowboy. My wife, who is a retro jazz singer, once appeared on a talk show on a gay cable channel. One of the other guests was a guy who starred in gay-oriented porn. He was a muscular, well-endowed fellow who sat next to her throughout the show, wearing nothing but boots and tighty-whities. She kept her cool and was her usual witty self. She told me afterward that before the show, he was walking around in the makeup room in nothing but the boots, but that still didn't fluster her. Then again, she's married to me, so he'd have to be much better endowed to impress her.

Don K. said...

So you DID meet the male morning TV host with the wax face! Ew.

darms said...

Hire "Ten Years After" if you want but Alvin Lee is dead...

chuckcd said...

Your Woodstock idea may have been a joke, but i can actually see that being popular.
The ship is gone from Treasure Island? That sucks.