The best part about Las Vegas.

July 12, 2010

Is leaving it behind forever.

I’ve come to the conclusion, possibly five months and thousands of dollars too late to realize that There’s No Place Like Home.

No amount of money can keep me in that awful city. Not to say the money was all that great. The money that was good wasn’t regular and the money that was regular wasn’t good.

I tap this final entry out on my phone’s soft keyboard as I sit in a dive restaurant in Tonopah, the halfway point between the freedom of the North and the baffling, stultifying, enslaving madness of the South.

I won’t miss you, Las Vegas, and I’m certain you won’t miss me. May our paths never again cross.

A random family of travelers sits at an outdoor restaurant in Tonopah while flies buzz and the sun beats and I have a hard time explaining how much nicer this is than Las Vegas.


Raising Cane’s

May 29, 2010

Vegas never stopped suckin’, I just took a little break from writin’.

There’s no two ways about it, even though I haven’t updated in a few weeks and not like any of you care or anything since I have like eight people what read this blog and all; but in the last couple of weeks, a few Good Things happened. First off, I got a sweet-shit part-time-on-call gig that pays me way too much money. This is because I am awesome and have skills whose skills have skills. Then I managed to get another job and then another one on top of that. So fuck you, crippled job market. When a dude is awesome, it takes awhile for the fuckholsters and dickslingers in charge to notice, but when they do, Good Times come rollin’ like snow in an avalanche.

Ah but not all times are good. Newfound responsibilities and obligations find their way into my life, overriding my shiftless and lazy Bohemian lifestyle, precluding the desire and ability to bum around this godawful place and look for things that I find appealing, fun, beautiful or just downright wacky little metaphorical jellyfish awash amid the overwhelming ocean of overbearing light and cloying noise and needless oversexualization, all of which enticing the dumbshits like the little bobbing, blinking, blipping sexy lure that dangles enticingly in front of the Corporate Gaming Juggernaut’s greedy, snapping yap.

With that, let’s go back to restaurant reviews! I’ll write more about these horrible casinos later in the week.

Raising Cane’s fucking sucks.

Holy shit does this joint ever stink up the city. My Vegas friends do nothing but rant and rave and tell me about how this little chain is such a Vegas Institution and is so important to Vegas’ vaginal bouquet that it was featured in the movie The Hangover[1]. Good for it, I guess. In-N-Out Burger was like in every movie ever set in Southern California and that doesn’t make it suck any less either[2].

The first thing you notice about the place is the mascot. Now let’s go off-tangent for a bit and talk about fast food mascots. Mascots are a time-honored tradition in which the awfulness and cheapness of food is masked and obscured by a kitschy, friendly cartoon mascot. McDonald’s has Ronald, Burger King has the King, Jack in the Box has the Jack in the Box and Wendy’s has well, Wendy[3]. It’s not like these places have to get all that avant-garde creative with their mascots. For the most parts the mascot is the name of the joint, as if they themselves are the owner. Each of these mascots was designed and market-tested by focus groups and research firms in order to both brand the marque (or marque the brand) and solidify each chain’s identity with its target audience.

Cane’s mascot is… A golden retriever.

Not just any golden retriever, but a golden retriever with a bandana knotted jauntily around its neck and with a pair of dollar-store black sunglasses perched upon its snout. See! The dog thinks its people! Obviously this is the perfect sort of fast food mascot! Nothing chirps the frivolity of empty calories like… a dead dog.

That’s right, the dog’s dead. The store’s name is Raising Cane’s, which evokes the imagery of a zombie canine, staggering through the mist-choked shoreline of a desert lake. As if the chain’s founder went and buried his dog in the old injun cemetery on the hill in hopes that ol’ Cane would come on back and they could be bestest buds forever despite the tortured howling and whining and begging for the return to the sweetest release of death, the animal’s sole reward for a life lived with the agony of cataracts and hip dysplasia so as to satisfy the whims of the owner’s twisted vanity.

Fuck’s sake. Now we’re off on another tangent. I don’t get dog owners. It’s not that I don’t like dogs, far from it, dogs are kickass. I watch the shit out of Cesar Milan, I’ve learned to be the pack leader. I have kind of an unspoken bond with dogs, I don’t think I’ve ever met a dog along with whom I do not immediately get. Dogs listen to me, dogs for the most part obey my commands and we generally have a good time being smelly, unkempt loners living away from the pack. That said, dudes that fetishize dogs, people who consider their dogs to be family, rather than as possessions simply boggle my mind. It’s just an animal. A thing, a possession. I’m not the sort to advocate unwarranted cruelty or mistreatment to animals, but animals are a lot like small children[4] – you, as their owner – need to make an understanding in the animal/owner relationship that the animal is the subordinate or submissive member in the relationship, not the dominant or equal member. To treat dogs or cats or horses or pigs or cows as an equal member of the relationship is to invite ill behavior on the part of the animal. When a pet thinks that it is on equal footing as its owner, it begins to create an Oedipal power dynamic struggle where it will – upon realizing that it is of equal footing as the owner – attempt to dominate the owner.

This basically leads to chickenshit like the Raising Cane’s mascot.

That fucking dog is everywhere in the store. Something tells me that if the Clark County health codes didn’t permit it, each store would be managed by a goddamned dysplasic goldie, yapping and slobbering and shitting everywhere because the store franchisee didn’t have the ballsack to tell the fucking mutt to know its role in the relationship.

Now that’s over and we have zombie goddamned dog drippings and mangy patches of hair on the ground of our mental palate, let’s talk about the food!

It’s awful!

Never before have I felt so ashamed to waste seven bucks. I should have bought a Transformer or went to Las Pupusas or just given some homeless guy five bucks to kick me in the balls and I'd have the same experience as going to Cane's except I'm two dollars less-poor.

Seven bucks and small change gets you four limp little breaded chicken breast spears. There is no seasoning or flavor to the breading, just breading-flavor. Which is okay, I guess, because they give you this pale, pink sauce for dippin’.

But the sauce is terrible. It tastes faintly of ranch dressing, chili powder and coarse ground black pepper. When the Secret Sauce is mostly made by Lawry’s, can you really consider it much of a secret?

French fries! It’s hard to fuck up french fries, right? Julienne cut fried potatoes are the bedrock upon which our stately American physique is built, n’est ce pas? Oh, Ore-Ida crinkle-cut fries? Nothin’ says mouthwatering blandness like Ore-Ida! Good thing I paid seven bucks for this.

Hey check it out! Is that a little two ounce soufflé cup full of painfully bland coleslaw I see! Why yes it is! I’ll set that to /ignore and move onto the only part of the meal that was worth a shit:

The toast.

Yes. A big slice of “texas” toast with sesame seeds. It was only grilled on one side. Now, coming from a kitchen background, that’s always how I made my toast. I used to work as the graveyard cook in a greasy spoon and loved coming up with interesting ways to take what I learned from Professors Brown and Child and apply it to dive-bar salt-bomb red-eye meals. Instead of doing toast in the salamander, I’d grill it on the hottop. Just a little bit of garlic butter to lube the griddle and a sizzle on each side to bring it to that perfect GBD[5] state and onto the plate it would go. Nothin’ but compliments from the drunk-shit stoners and underaged tweakers back at the pool hall part of the bar. Zweiback that’s made on the grill is always, invariably better than that which is made over an indirect-heat dry-air method. So at least Cane’s has that going for it, right?

In short, fuck this restaurant chain, fuck their awful chicken, fuck their awful sauce, fuck their goddamned mascot and fuck their piece of shit owner for parading his dead dog’s corpse around like he was the two male leads on Scrubs.

You know a place is godawful terrible shit when the only thing it has going for it is the TOAST.

The one plus side of the place is that the ice machine dispenses the little tiny crushed cubes which are so much more satisfying than the big blocky cubes, je ne sais quoi, but I by far prefer them.

As a furthermore aside, the name of this place is confounding. It’s called Raising Cane’s. The heraldry in the store indicate that the place is really Cane’s, as in a restaurant that belongs to someone named Cane, see, that’s how apostrophes work in English. They do not – as many seem to accept – indicate that an S is coming up quick so you’d better be on guard because Ses are like snakes and will totally strike and snap at you if you turn your back on them. Rather, an apostrophe indicates a possessive. Were this French, we would say Chez Cane, literally The House of Cane. In English, we forgo all the honorifics and formality and just throw in an “apostrophe-s” at the end of the name or title to indicate possession:


But what’s with the “Raising” part? It’s as if the chain owner was so damn distraught over his dead dog’s passing that he sought to hastily scrawl in the word “Raising” atop each of his painstakingly hand-painted neo-retro bullshit cursive logo so as to possibly suggest that the proceeds from each sale will go toward re-funding those totally rad Soviet-era experiments where they chop the heads off of dogs and then hook them to pumps and then re-animate said dogs? So then he can live on forever with the miserable, wretched corpse of his One True Friend to stick around with him forever as it bawls and howls in miserable jealousy of those who are allowed the actual respite of death? Dude, get a girlfriend. There are cats that prowl up and down the strip handing out little glossy cards of girls whose attention you can purchase and I guarantee you it’d cost less than your mad goal of resurrecting your dead damn dog. Let it go already.

Either that, or the fucking dead dog after which the chain is named was actually named Raising Cane, which is just so mindbogglingly-stupid that I honestly would not put it past the sort of person who builds shrines to his dead dog in every restaurant in his chain.

Absolute Worst Of Las Vegas.

[1]I’ll take their word for it, I ain’t seen The Hangover. I’ll remedy that eventually.

[2]It’s not that In-N-Out sucks exactly, it’s just a place that offers nothing I can’t do at home myself. What’s the point in going to a restaurant that makes the same stuff a dude with a skillet and a handful of meat can do on his lonesome? Not exactly knocking the place, it’s all-right. Not the best fucking hamburger in the cosmos, as everybody makes the place out to be.

[3]And you left our Carl’s Jr’s angry little “Fuck you. I’m eating” star. And then Arby’s had the oven mitt, which is non sequitur because the shop’s logo is obviously a hat.

[4]Rather small children are more like animals. And like animals, they need to be raised in cages, force-fed growth hormones and forced to fight each other for wager. That’d make the organized gaming industry in this state something worthy of my participation.

[5]Golden Brown and Delicious. If I were ever to open a law firm or advertising agency, that’d be its name.

Tokyo Discount

May 11, 2010

The storefront. Even its fonts are cutesy.

Places like this always manage to change me. They replace my ennui with melancholy.

Sure, for a big lame Japanophile nerd that spent the last decade as a contributor to a website that discussed and made fun of and enjoyed the hell out of Japanese cartoon porn (and all its insane peccadillos), I find these places to be immensely gratifying. The piped-in music is the upbeat, poppy ending themes to girly (shoujo) anime series[1]. For some reason, I wasn’t embarrassed to be nodding my head along to the first end titles to Lucky Star as it bopped its way across the muzak system.

So much j-stuff. DAWT CAWM. Click my banner ads for the very best in rape dating sims and scarves that are a set of tits because nerds like you won\'t ever get a chance to get a handful anyway. J-STUFF DAWT CAWM ALL DAY EVERY DAY BABY

Yeah, there are Revoltech Frauleins (including TEH REI so if you want one, let me know and I’ll buy it for you, it’s like 17$) and a couple of Figmas (Saber from Fate/Stay In The Kitchen) as well as racks and racks of Sanrio garbage, tea sets, those cute Japanese festival kimonos (the likes of which I only know because I sat through all eight episodes of the Endless Eight arc of the second season of Haruhi), dry goods, packaged snacks, tea boxes, cans of Pocari Sweat and a whole shitpile of other stuff you saw on

Since I always feel like a heel going into a place like this without buying anything, I got a can of Japanese iced coffee. It was 2.39$, which is like .60 less than a Starbucks Doubleshot and doesn’t taste like shit.

So why does Japan Discount and places like it make me so melancholic? Well, going to these places and enjoying these things were what I did with the only woman I really loved. We’d wander around Chinatowns, take in the bizarre that is the Pan-Asian culture, gawk at bootleg DVDs, bootleg toys, drink Boba tea and play import PS2 games and basically connect on a fundamental level due to our shared philia of this ridiculous, cutesy, silly and harmless culture from a foreign shore.

Now that short, sweet, too-good-to-last relationship is over, existing solely as memories in my heart and photos on my Facebook page and oft-recited lyrics to an obscure song by an equally obscure rock band[2].

These places, these neat little stores always have the opposite effect intended by the cutesy graphic design themes and adorable merchandise. Instead of lifting my spirits, they simply crush them into the dirt.

I hate this place.

And it’s not that I hate the store, it’s a neat little place. It’s really hard to genuinely hate a little Japanese import store. I just hate the feeling of loneliness, heartache and longing of a love gone unresolved it dredges up in me.

Then I drink my Black Boss and try to chin up and remember that the journey’s only starting.

[1]which all are remarkably reminiscent to records that ELO produced in the mid-’80s as they seem to have realized that Prog Is Dead and just decided to do what the fuck ever with their music. The Japs took notice (boy howdy did they ever take notice) and it seemed that all the cutesy ending themes to dating/sitcom series of the era thematically aped records like Time, Out Of The Blue and Zoom.

[2]there’s that irony again, learn to love, it’s how I roll.

Joker’s Wild

May 10, 2010

Astute viewers will notice the entirety of The Strip in the far background.

It’s refreshing to go into a casino whose ridiculous casino theme is “casino.” I hate sounding like a Dennis Leary sketch here but where did all the fucking casino-themed casinos go? It used to be, you’d walk into a casino, you’d see slot machines, table games, a keno bar, girls walking around selling cigarettes from a board around their necks and cocktail waitresses handing out free watered-down cocktails for every ten bucks you’d put into a machine. Then all of a sudden around the mid-90s we have the pyramids and the Eiffel Tower shoved up our asses and casinos stopped being casinos and started being theme parks.

Fuck. That. Shit.

That’s why it’s such a delight to run into a casino that’s still a casino. The first thing that strikes you when you wander in off of Boulder Highway and into the Joker’s Wild is The Smell. Oh if you’ve lived in this state[1] long enough, you’ll remember it. The stale, musty smell of week-old cigarette smoke, that tarry, sickly, treacly smell that clings to the air-conditioned entryways and hovers between the sets of doors that act as an airlock between the blistering brilliance of outside and the damp, dark, dankness of the inside. In that zone, that scant four feet The Smell hits you and you’re back where you started, seven years old and wandering through the casino floors of your youth, glaring at the poker machines and watching the keno balls rattle around in their translucent plexiglass dome.

More like this.

If there’s anything that hits me in the mouth and makes me put on those rose-tinted glasses and look back at something with a delightful nostalgic wax, it’s The Smell. And Joker’s Wild has it. Since I obstensibly “live” in that area (I found a sweet place to urban campout nearby), I find myself going back from time to time, just to catch a snootful of that sickly, stale tobacco tar and remember how things were back before I was cognizant and realized how shitty the entire universe is and just how fucking cynical I really am.

Joker’s Wild is a great club. No cloying ads depicting chiseled hardbodies with airbrushed gradient glows on their thighs inviting you to the pool, no night-club-all-day bars that play the same Alicia Keys song[3] on repeat while douchebags in designer jeans and italian shoes reeking of Axe body spray pump their fists over their gelled fauxhawks. No, just a real, live, honest-to-God oldschool casino experience. The way Sammy and Dean-o and The Chairman wanted it.

The martini has three ingredients. Gin, Vermouth and an Olive. If you ask for one with vodka, the bartender here will punch you in the mouth and then security will swoop in and take you to a back room where they threaten to cut off your cock. True story.

[1]by which I mean “the parts that don’t suck.”[2]

[2]also you sort of had to be here before the anti-smoking Nazis clamped down on us back in 2006 with their ridiculous Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act.

[3]newyorknewyorknewyorknewyorknewyorknewyork *blam *

Market Grille

May 10, 2010

So, yeah. Market Grille.

It turns out there’s this very good, but at the same time incredibly boring chain of Greek restaurants here in Vegas. According to Google there are like three of them in town, one up in Summerlin, one in Norftown and one down in Hendo.

I don’t know how to feel about Market Grille. First off, holy shit is it good. Holy shit goddamn. Really. I don’t have words. I didn’t really know what I wanted, because well honestly I don’t have a clue what the hell any of this is here on the menu. I’m from a part of the world to which Greek and Mediterranean is kind of completely alien.

There was this little Greek pizzeria up in Reno called Pirate’s Pizza that served this neat little appetizer plate that consisted of like these little sausages wrapped up in grape leaves and big hunks of feta cheese on bamboo skewers with kalamata olives and so forth, but that’s really the extent of my exposure to Greek cuisine – which is basically the same thing as saying that you rock out with your Mexican out because you’ve been to Taco Bell once.

So perhaps it’s that I went into the place without any preconceptions or expectations that I enjoyed what I had so immensely. Sort of the opposite reaction to the first time I had catfish. I was on a cross-country road trip, we’d stopped in Gatlinburg Tennessee[1] and I decided that you know what, I’d been in The South for a whole month and I ain’t yet tried a lick of fried catfish so I’d better just try it right now.

When the truck stop waitress asked me “how’d y’all like y’catfish?” I gave a short but honest reply: “I don’t know if this was bad catfish or if catfish is bad, but I hated it.” Perhaps it was that my expectations were so high, that everybody I knew said that catfish was an orgasm between the teeth that had me so anticipating it and setting myself up for disappointment when it turned out to be just so goddamned awful that I had to fight my way through the whole dish because I paid ten bucks for it and yes I am that damned cheap.

So, heading into Market Grille, I didn’t know what I wanted, I didn’t know what to expect, so I just ordered the “trio platter” which had little squares of three of their main entrées on a plate full of salad and rice and accompanied with a half-ounce soufflé cup of hummus and a couple triangles of pita bread.

Each of the three entrée samples were something I’d never experienced before, yet at the same time was hauntingly familiar. This is the sort of place that TV executives new shows to be. “Give me the same, only different!” they’d harp.

Basically what I had here were three little squares of lasagna. But instead of big old chewy flat noodles, I had crispy phyllo. Instead of bland ricotta cheese, there was tart and dry feta. Instead of canned red sauce, I got… well canned red sauce.

Spanakopita, Pastitiso and Mousaka.

And it was good. Really good.

– But –

What’s the deal with how boring the place was? I thought Greek joints were supposed to have dudes with accordions belting out the greatest hits of Yanni while gypsy women in long frilly dresses kick wine glasses against the walls and goats juggle plates on sticks? I was led to believe that these Greek joints were a circus and a show. After all, when you’re paying eight bucks for a gyro sandwich, you’d at least better get a re-enactment of Clash of the Titans in sockpuppet.

Whatever. I liked it. It was a bit expensive, 40$ for two of us. We didn’t even have any wine. But what’s Vegas good for if not wasting money on enjoyment that’s fleeting at best?

[1]in mid jue-lye, I’d just hit town and my throat was dry. So I thought I’d stop and have myself a brew. It was an old saloon on a street of mud, when who did I see a’dealin’ stud? But that dirty mangy son of a bitch what named me (etc etc).

So when did I miss the Prussian Blue show?

May 8, 2010

You had me at “fourteen year old twin sisters.”

But Is It Art?

May 8, 2010

There’s this indoor swap meet at like Decatur and Charleston, don’t quote me on this because I was drunk and morose and kind of pissed off at my employment situation when I moseyed into the place.

Like most places in Las Vegas, this big indoor swap meet was full of Mexicans. Not that I have anything against Mexicans, it’s just an observation. Mexicans everywhere, selling Chinese underwear and iPhone cases by the boxload. One dude with a pushbroom and a sombrero hawks knives from the BudK catalog while another tries to get you to buy cheese-salted kettle corn.

In the back though, is an art gallery. Apparently this art gallery’s been there for twenty years, trying in vain to sell, among other things, oil paintings of celebrities. How… delightfully vapid and crass. Tres Vegas, baby. Nothing describes this city like an immense amount of effort and talent put into something that has, in the grand scheme of things, no actual worth or lasting value.

For instance:

Is that Merle Haggard on the right?

Yeah, that’s an oil painting of a photoshop montage of publicity stills culled from a Google Image Search of Miley Cyrus as Hanna Montana. I think the price tag on it was like sixty bucks.

Good luck to you, buddy. I hope someone buys it. I mean honestly, who would spend hard-earned money on a very crude oil painting of a washed-up celebrity that’s riding the very tail end of their popularity and will soon be replaced by a younger, hotter, blonder new act – tossed aside like so much an empty adult beverage container upon the street to be trodden on and destroyed underfoot by the very people who once celebrated its existence…

Oh whoa wait holy shit, is that a crude oil painting of Don Rickles? When I get a house, that is totally the first thing I’m going to buy.

Indoor Swap Meets Are Awesome

May 7, 2010

“We’ll give you 20 pieces if you snitch on your homey,
We’ll put you in a home, and make your life plush,
Oh yeah, but you got to sell myrrh for us.”
Hmmm, let me think about it
Turned my back and grabbed my gladius and guess what I told him before I stuck it it.
“If you don’t quit, yeah, if you don’t stop, yeah, I’m lettin’ my glad’ chop”
Cause it’s 1-8-7 on an undercover Centurion.

As seen at an indoor swap meet on Flamingo, west of the 95.

Awesome Graffiti

May 6, 2010

As seen on a bench in a park in Chinatown. Not my work, wish it were.

My dicks are usually narrower and not as veiny.

Obama Pedicures

May 6, 2010

I don’t even have words for this. Holy shit wow. I should go in and ask for a Nixon haircut.

If you want your Obama Pedicure, you can get one up on Charleston, a bit east of Decatur on the north side of the street (across from the sweet gay bar FLEX).