Gugino’s

May 6, 2010

There’s this funny little eye-tah-yin place by the University campus that Mr. Right-Wing talked me into goin’. Okay, this is a new thing on me, given my previous statements of dislike for New York, New Yorkers and the whole New York experience.

We wandered in and I immediately found the place to be a bit charming. Steel kitchen racks line the walls and kickboards of the entire dining area. On these shelves are bags of flowers, jars of olives, chubs of polenta[1] and other kitcheny dry goods. A close examination reveals that basically everything is imported. “Producto de Italia” most read. Cool. Authentigo. Except aren’t stacks of racks like this out in the dining area simply for decoration? After all, I’m sure the kitchen is full of the same Sysco and Farmer Brothers boxes as are every kitchen in America…

Not just decor! Also New Yorkers really seem to be just proud of the fact that they're from New York. Provincialism always confounds me, it's not like the place is great enough to write a godawful pop song whose only lyrics are the city's name repeated ad nauseum, right?

So consider me surprised and shocked when a guido waddled out of the back, through the dining area, weaving between the chairs and customers to grab a bag of flour and a couple of cans of tomatoes from the rack. Okay, that’s cool. They at least try to stay authentic.

Speaking of authentic, meet our cook. Now as a foreword, I’m homeless. You might have drawn that from earlier posts here, but I ain’t have a house. I live out of a Jeep Cherokee. I have all my clothes in a duffel. I take my showers at the gym. I use my internet at the public library. I get by on basically 250$/mo between my car insurance, phone bill and gym membership. Our cook is dressed in a white t-shirt, basketball shorts and the delightful stereotypical guinea-on-a-gold-chain that he and his people wear more often than my Israeli friends wear their Stars of David[2].

This guy is wearing to work what I wore to sleep. I don’t have a home. I don’t go out in public dressed in what I wore to sleep. And yet this guy goes to work, he gets up out of bed in his house somewhere in the Valley, takes a shower, smokes up a Newport, splashes on the Drakkar Noir, looks at himself in the mirror and says to himself “yeah! this is sufficient! I shall go out into public, looking like this!”

Ready to work! Maybe I'm putting too damned much effort into this whole "finding a job" thing, what with my shirt and tie and suit coat and shined shoes and all.

He then hops into his 1991 IROC-Z (black, t-tops) and blasts the shit out of Led Zeppelin 4 on his cassette deck as he motors his way to Guigino’s Italian Deli.

And I’m homeless.

Now that we’ve gone so far to the side that we’re listing and in danger of capsizing, let’s talk about the pizza. I’ve a relationship with the dish that one would call “storied.” Basically pizza’s my favorite thing. If you know me, you can pretty much tell. I spent the majority of my twenties working in pizza shops and lawdy did it ever do my health buckets of good! So since I’ve moved on and away from what was my Life Before Vegas, I’ve shied away from the demon pie that has had such a tight hold around my arteries.

So here we go, into the eye-tah-yin joint advertising a 6.99$ large cheese pizza special. Fuck it, ain’t had a pizza since I moved here, let’s get it on.

Our working-in-bedclothes wop behind the grill proceeded to actually knead and roll out a dough ball. Holy shit dude, I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone actually make the dough to order. Typically pizza places have dough pre-made and pre-portioned, ready to be slapped around and shaped into a vaguely-round disc upon which the toppings are placed. If anything, that was interesting.

When the pizza arrived at our table, I instantly noticed something about it: it was bland. Bland itself doesn’t do justice to the look, feel, texture and flavor of the pie. A new word needs to be invented to explain how boring this pizza was. Where most pizza joints have little screw-top shakers full of red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, this place had shakers full of oregano.

Yeah, the main herb what goes into pizza sauce, the one that gives it the very essence de Italia was placed off to the side, to be added by the customer.

While the guinea behind the counter did indeed make up some dough from scratch, he left out an important ingredient: the damn salt. Nothing makes dough taste flat, distant and pointless faster than the lack of our good buddy Sodium Chloride. Two eternal essentials to Italian cooking were left out completely.

Now maybe this is just a symptom of what’s wrong with the East Coast and its culinary tradition. They’re boring. Maybe to them, this is an exciting time out. But to us on the West Coast who were brought up to enjoy food that actually tastes like stuff, this pizza was barely more than a slice of toast, some ketchup and plain cheese thrown in the microwave to melt a bit.

No enjoyment, no gusto, no pleasure, just eating for sustenance and obligation having spent twelve bucks in this dive on a pizza and two fountain drinks.

Bleah.

Terrible.

Oh and there were no red/white checked tablecloths. Come on. Seriously? What kind of eye-tye joint doesn’t have red checked tablecloths?

Someone out there – someone with tastes boring enough to find Las Vegas exciting – is bound to enjoy this place, but I hated it.

[1]grits. Normal people call them grits.

[2]I wear a tan hospital bracelet that reads “NO CAFFEINE”. It’s supposed to be ironic!

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God’s Kitchen Billboard

May 5, 2010

See, it's a play on Hell's Kitchen, get it? There's like angels and shit!? We're so fucking clever! Give us promotions and a boat!

A platinum blonde waif in angel wings and a white corset reclines and invites you to totally chillax at God’s Kitchen yo inside the Vanity bar inside the Hard Rock Hotel Casino which apparently has yet to recover from its logo being bonked into by the plane in Con Air.

Do these ads really work on the kind of transient douchebags that visit this town for three days and then go home? Are they really so stupid to believe that OH SHIT DAMN DOGG DAT GIRL ON DA BIZZILLBIZZOARD UP THERE IS SO GODDAMNED SHITHOT DOGG, WE SHOULD TOTALLY GO TO THE VANITY OR SIN OR GOD’S KITCHEN OR WHATEVER AND FOR FUCKIN’ REAL HANG OUT WITH THOSE RUDEST OF RUDE TITTAYS? or is it that the Directors of Advertising at these resorts think that we (that is the little people on the street upon whom they look down upon disdainfully from their glistening ivory towers in the sky)  are so goddamned stupid that we’ll shuffle into their lame casino bars and pay fifteen bucks for a well martini because the cocktail waitresses wear lame little angel wing motif costumes?

I think both options are equally valid.

Anime Clipart Girls Need Sushi Too

May 4, 2010

OH WE ROVE SUCHE AND BIG AMELICAN PENIS WHY YOU NO COME TO SUCHE LOKU AN WE SHOW YOU LEAR GOOD TIME RONG TIME ARR NIGHT RONG BAYBAY?

A thing, well maybe the thing that annoys me most about this billboard is how it doesn’t actually have fucking anything to do with sushi, aside from three vaguely-animesque girls with cocked hips sacheting around the billboard’s center space, displaying playing cards and champagne glasses but no goddamned sushi at all.

On top of the cloying, unimaginative main illustration which was no doubt culled from one of those 1,000,001 Clipart Images CD ROMs from circa 1996, the design is terrible. There’s no “rule of threes,” each design element takes up the exact same third of the canvas. There is no dominant, subdominant or subordinate design element, the illustration takes up the same space-share as the restaurant design, the advertising copy and the informative copy at the bottom.

Were I to turn this billboard in for class credit, I’d be failed and asked to repeat the class. And yet someone out there got paid to do it. That right there is what frustrates me most about the state of advertising in general and this city in particular.

Eastside Cannery

May 3, 2010

The Cannery does have a neat lightshow on its hotel facade.

Waiting around for, well for something. That’s my whole life, I wait. I may as well be in the army here for all the hurry-up-and-wait I do here in my life. While I’m waiting around for something that ended up never materializing (again, that’s my life in a nutshell), I wandered over to the Eastside Cannery to take a few photos.

The Eastside Cannery is that one hotel you see off in the middle of nowhere along the Boulder Highway between Downtown and Henderson. It’s the one with the, well let’s just say that it has a totally fucking rad light display along the outside.

The exterior of the hotel tower is ringed by these LED matrix stripes that somewhat resemble the CRT lines in a very low-resolution interlaced-scan display. Each line is capable of changing colors laterally and when manipulated in concert with the lines above and below, images whip and whorl across the face of the hotel tower. Lines bip and blip up and down like a stereo equalizer and little circles spiral and zoom in and out in procedurally-generated blobs of color, light and enjoyment.

Really, it’s neat. I pointed my camera up at it and got about a minute of video on it as the facade changed colors like an excitable cuttlefish dazzles its prey before lashing out with its lightning tentacles and crunching down on an unsuspecting arthropod with its calcified beak. Nom nom (video).

Briiiiiiight

Heading into the Cannery I noticed something, something I really didn’t like about it. Holy shit is this casino floor bright. Seriously I’m used to shooting indoors with my ISO set to 400 or 800. I had to tone it down to 200 and close the aperture a bit to avoid overexposed photos. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a casino floor so brightly damn lit. It was almost uncomfortable.

The clientèle was strictly locals-only. Elderly casino players staggered and shuffled through the floor, players club cards dangling from curly cord keyrings as they glide on their walkers to their favorite machines, playing club card comps to win more club card comps[2].

Bravo Twenty Niner, heading in on final approach. Copy that control, we have the green light to drop. Dropping in ten.

Upstairs was a bingo hall. I’ve honestly never in my life seen a bingo hall. I figured they were just in boring Back East states where gaming isn’t allowed. So seeing one was kind of an OOP, like that spark plug inside the agate from the Cretaceous.

My most recent video game console is older than these "retro classic" poker machines.

The Eastside Cannery sports some retro, vintage slot machines. If you can call machines with a copyright date of 1999 as “retro vintage,” that is. They take coins, and being a dude who grew up[1] around the old coin-op mechanical slots and digital-toggle (pre touchscreen) poker machines, the clatter and clank of coins dropping from a chute into a steel catchpan was sweetly, wistfully nostalgic. It brought back fond memories of smoke-filled casino floors in Gardnerville and Carson, electronic blips and tones filling the air in a cacophony of FM synth accompanied by the mechanical click-clack-clonk-tack of the analog roller-drum slot machines coming to a stop.

Do I hate the Eastside Cannery? No, not as much as I hate say the Mirage or the Wynn, but I also don’t love the property. It’s too bright, too clean, too impersonal and antiseptic. It’s the sort of place that was made for and appealing to old retired folk living in the suburban sprawl of the east valley. All in all, I’m pretty ambivalent.

[1]lies. You never grew up.

[2]this is how my grandmother gambles and it confounds me how she just goes in with an armload of players club cards and leverages comps against comps in order to win more comps. She never goes in nor leaves with cash.

Stupid Sexy Billboards

May 3, 2010

It’s taken me a month or so and I’ve started to dig through the backup files in my recollection and try to puzzle out exactly what the fuck it is about this city makes me utterly hate it. And I think I’ve discovered it: the needless and crass oversexualization of the casino advertising design.

Yes, I realize that sex sells. Diet Coke has Cindy Crawford guzzling cans in a red Corvette while ZZ Top riffs in the background and European travel brocures all flaunt images of topless beaches while Maxim magazine sports more chiseled manflesh in its advertising than Playgirl and Flex combined and yet, it’s been posited by ad magnates of the early-to-mid twentieth that needless oversexualization of ad copy doesn’t necessarily correlate to any increase of sales.

But yet here we are, 2010 and here’s a chiseled, marble-in-flesh seductively inviting me to… the damn buffet at the Eastside Cannery? I don’t get it, but this will be the first entry in my new category depicting needlessly sexy casino asvertisements.

"Oh tee hee shove this big glistening complete turkey into your face and then shovel down a couple thick slices of marbled prime rib and some asparagus spears down your unstoppable gullet and don't forget the mashed potatoes and two big old slices of double-pumpkin chocolate cream pie with hand-whipped cream and gummy bear sprinkles for dessert and you'll totally get a chance to go on a date with a shining bronze supermodel like me, tee hee!"

Fun techonobo tip!

May 1, 2010

Potato pearls, those instant mashed potatoes you can buy bulk at your local grocery store [1] /say/ they require steeping and stirring in hot water to work.

Bullshit. You can enjoy these potatoes cold, they simply require a bit more stirrage than if you were to introduce water to them straight from the boil. A little salt and pepper in packet form as lifted from any number of fast food or convenience stops and you’ve a no-fuss, low-mess, easy breakfast for these hot, lazy late spring days here in Las Vegas, waiting, waiting, waiting for someone, anyone to call you back from a job application.

[1]these spuds as pictured are actually individually-portioned pouches taken from my backpaking/survival stash.

New York New York

May 1, 2010

The NYNY's Team America city caricature skyline. Did they have a big teary-eyed ceremony where they demolished the World Trade Center towers so it mates up with the present Post-9/11 skyline?

Hey great, another day another theme casino. As I shuffle through the photos I’d taken of the property, I wonder aloud at the risk of sounding like Jerry Seinfeld when I ask: “What’s the deal with all these theme casinos?”

I can’t put my finger on it exactly, where and when the theme casino nonsense started up. Much of the blame must be levied upon the economic dip in the late ’80s coupled with how the idiots of the Baby Boom generation started taking over from The Greatest Generation and decided to take everything that was good about America and crush it underfoot like a cigarette butt[1]. Gone would be everything that was ever actually fun, to be replaced by things that their focus groups and marketing attorneys would consider “safe, family-friendly, lawsuit-free fun!”

And there we go, “family-friendly” should be seen as a swear word. “Family-friendly” means that all the real fun as enjoyed by adults has been stripped out, chewed-up and re-inserted into a form that’s palatable by the young and addle-headed but thoroughly unenjoyable to those who actually you know, aren’t retarded, boring assholes.

The exact sort of retarded, boring assholes that go to Disney Parks! Have you ever been to a Disney Park? If you haven’t, you should go. Do it quick too, because a one-day pass is now like seventy bucks and skyrockets higher every day. If you’ve never been to Disneyland, I can accurately recreate the experience for you:

First, go to the DMV around noon on Friday, when every other idiot in town decides he wants to go to the damn DMV. Stand in the first line for two hours. Get your simple change of address form. Then go to another, longer line. Stand in that line for a further three. Once you get up to the front of the line, the clerk simply makes three mouse clicks and prints you out a paper. You then pay the clerk seventy bucks and then she climbs over the counter and kicks you in the balls. There’s the Disneyland experience for you! Family Friendly Fun! Get back in line and do it all over again! ALL DAY EVERY DAY WOOO DISNEYLAAAAAAAAND!!!

Have you met the sort of people that think that a vacation to Disneyland/World is their pilgrimage to Mecca? They’re usually kind of incredibly boring. Uptight, got married right out of high school, ended up with three screaming kids and have boring but secure Union jobs being paid way too much to perform tasks better performed better and at much lower cost by robots. Usually blindly-religious. These are the sort of people that just lurrrrrrrrve Disney and think that Las Vegas is Sodom[2].

So of course some pencil-pushing dickhead behind a massive capital holdings company looked at the Disney Parks’ books and realized that they made money in best described somewhere between “a shitload” and “a fuckload.” This humorless, imaginationless desk-jockey then decided that if his holdings in Sin City U.S.A. were ever to earn enough money for him to dump his cash holdings into an Olympic-sized pool full of crisp single dollar bills perched over which is a big old sproingy diving board, then he’ll have to mindlessly ape the one thing the Disney Parks have done so as to attract up the boring sort of families that go to Disney Parks.

And that thing is THEEEEEEME PAAAAAARK HORSESHIT!!! Immediately and instantly the theme casinos started to crop up. The Excalibur had a lame King Arthur Knights of the Round Table bullshit going on and then the Luxor countered by being all Ancient Egypt and then hey fuck you check us out we’re the goddamned Aladdin[3] with our fuckin’ Arabian Nights theme and you know what suck my mom’s tits we’re the Venetian with our damn Venice theme and this is our pussy little cousin the Paris. Before long, you could walk from ancient Mesopotamia to Atlantis to the fucking Moon all within two miles of concrete pedestrian overpasses.

Smack in the middle of all the fake cultural-historical landmarks and themes sits the worst of them all, the New York, New York.

Now, it’s pretty classic egotistical provincialism for New Yorkers to think that they’re the center of the universe. Fuck’s sake I’ve heard New Yorkers describe their city as “Universe City.” And the media is completely complicit in this. You’d be hard-pressed to find a TV series, novel, comic book, cartoon or movie that doesn’t fucking take place in New York City. If anything happens in the world, it happens in New York first. ALL EYES ON NEW FUCKIN’ YORK OVER HERE! The city is the eldest daughter at a debutante ball. If your eyes aren’t on her what the fuck is your problem are you a faggot or something?

So naturally, why not put a fucking New York themed bullshit casino smack dab in the center of Las Vegas! It only makes sense, right, since New York is at least as culturally-significant as Hooters or M&Ms so yeah why not, let’s just shove a big old rotten slice of apple into the center of the big old drippy shit sandwich that is The Strip.

The first thing you notice about heading into the New York, New York is how unauthentic it is. Now, I won’t say that I know the first fucking thing about New York aside from the fact that the city got so butthurt over the 9/11 event that they pulled the episode of The Simpsons where Homer’s car gets impounded at the World Trade Center from syndication forever. For that alone the entire city can fuck off. Where was I? The first thing you notice about the NYNY was that the place doesn’t reek of piss. I’ve never been, but I hear that New York has the most interesting uric bouquet. That you can tell the boroughs from one another by the smell of the piss on the sidewalk. If the NYNY can’t even get this right, then what hope is there for replicating faithfully the real New York experience?

Because I guess big old streamers of static confetti jizz hovering in the air just screams "New York"?

Of course, there is none. Like the rest of this awful city, the NYNY casino is only a theme park reproduction of the real place. It’s what boring people who have never been there imagine them to be like. The Venetian and Palazzo replicate Venice about as well as the Casino Royale remake did. The Luxor is about as Egyptian as Bananarama and the NYNY is about as New York as I am.

I sometimes struggle to wonder to whom exactly the NYNY is designed to appeal? Real New Yorkers would be annoyed that some West Coast asshole can’t get every nuance of his beloved Universe City exactly completely one hundred percent correct. And after all, why shouldn’t the place be completely correct and authentic, after all New York is depicted in every goddamned piece of media ever conceived since Independence and all, you’d think we’d get it right by now. Tourists too cheap to go to Real New York? I’m honestly baffled at who the NYNY’s target audience actually is.

The NYNY itself seems to be confused, it doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be a theme resort with a roller coaster and big old postcard skyline featuring all the iconic skyline features mooshed together along one line, catering to the family crowd – or an adults-only casino with showgirls and table dancers spiraling around poles at the blackjack tables.

In the New Vegas, all blackjack dealers are also pole dancers.

I don’t know what it is about the NYNY, but I hate it, probably more than any other property here in Las Vegas.

[1]this is a bad analogy, since the kind of assholes that turn shit “family friendly” are also the same kind of fascist cocksuckers that go on anti-smoking crusades.

[2]Las Vegas sucks to hard for anybody to mistake it for Sodom. Maybe it’s the Disneyfied theme-park rendition of Sodom? Oooh~ I smell a new lame theme casino to pitch to Steve Wynn…

[3] The Aladdin is now the Miracle Mile Shops. They didn’t even bother changing the internal graphic design motif, it’s still 1001 Arabian Nights in there. Retarded.

The Vegas/Hot Dogs situation

April 27, 2010

Why, pray, is it so fucking difficult to get a halfway decent hot dog in this town?

Now, I’m not going to flex like Epicurius and claim that I’m the terminal of all knowledge when it comes to shoving shit into my face, but I’ve been here and there and put things into my mouth that ought not have been put there and like an underclass nerd who managed to score with the cheerleader, I hold those panties triumphantly up in the air while I bask on the accolades.

Or whatever.

What I’m getting at here is the state of the hot dog here in Vegas is abysmal. I’m not some dickbutt east-coasterner who professes that the frankfurter sandwich is the end-all-be-all of nishnosh but I do enjoy the things, as much as a fella can enjoy shoving six to twelve inches of beef tube past his lips and deep down into his throat.

But what the fuck, Vegas, is the deal with Chicago-style hot dogs? It seems that every time you turn around, you’re accosted by shops and stands and casino cafeteria that tout the fabled Chicago-style dog. What does Chicago-style even mean anyway? It’s been dead for five years but still managed to vote twice in the last election?

Fellow Vegas-hater Gewehrmonkey and myself happened into a Chicago Hot Dog eatery in Henderson and put the Chicago-style to task. The dogs were served up with this sort of electric green relish. To say that it was simply green, as a person would imagine regular pickle relish would be a misstatement. This relish, chutney, salsa, whatever you can call it is green like those nasty jell-o salads your grandmother would make for Easter. A sort of intense green that may as well be so out of gamut that you couldn’t print out a copy on your inkjet.

Along with the atomic radiation green relish, the dogs were served with slices of tomato, onions, a big dill pickle spear and these odd little slightly-spicy, way-too-sweet peppers.

This is overkill. Too much bullshit to shove on a hot dog. And at like seven bucks, it felt all the world a ripoff. The sausages didn’t really taste any different than the bulk foodservice dogs we’d use in restaurants which I’d worked, hell they weren’t any better than the ones Costco’s deli sells for a buck and a quarter.

The flavors are cloying. Weird jell-o salad tang vs dill pickle bitterness vs the peppers’ dull spiciness led to the sort of lackluster flavor complexity that you as a child would fabricate when grabbing ingredients at random from the fridge and attempting to make a kickass super radical to the maximum breakfast supreme surprise.

So, imagine my shock and surprise when moseying through Downtown in general and into The Fremont in particular when I’m met by a tiny casino cafe, one advertising actual, real hot dogs, not ones adorned with garlands of hibiscus flowers and draped with grape leaves and steamed in rosewater, but an actual, honest-to-god American motherfucking hot dog. With chili, cheese and onions. For four bucks.

Yes. Last time I had a foot of meat in the mouth, I was paid twenty bucks.

Maybe there’s hope for this miserable place after all? Maybe if they can finally not fuck up a hot dog, maybe there’s something else they won’t fuck up?

Baffling Vegas Bullshit

April 27, 2010

The Downtown casino – The California has a Hawaiian theme.

Whisky tango foxtrot, over.

I found it strange that people asked me if I worked there and if I could help them. It’s weird how I get that all the time when I’m say at Wal Mart or other retailers, but to get it on a casino when I’m walking around in a white and gray aloha shirt and black jeans was confounding…

Oh.

Not me, actual California employee.

Sam’s Town

April 27, 2010

I’m torn on Sam’s Town. I’ve early memories of trips into Darkest California, taking US50 on the long trip up the jagged cliffs between South Shore and Sac. On the trip, we’d stop at Sam’s Town in Placerville[1].

Maybe it was Placerville. People I know throw names of California towns at me as if I’d spent more than a combined thirty days in that awful, awful state. Honestly I couldn’t tell you a Stockton from a Brentwood from a Turlock if you put a revolver to my head and thrust a map into my lap.

Anyhow, the Sam’s Town I know – that I recall from the haze of two decades and a million miles – knew, was one of dollar hot dogs, a smoke-filled bar full of old men smelling of Old Spice, peanut shells on the floor crunching under your shoes and that sound most delightful to the ears if any child brought up in the Reagan Years: the electronic cacophony of FM synth.

Eight bit arcade games were the order of the day at the Sam’s Town of my memories. Namco, Konami and Data East were the names. Sam’s Town was a playground for the arcade-obsessed children and manchildren of the ’80s and my few trips there were memories as cherished as time spent with loves lost and family deceased.

Flash forward nearly a quarter century and again I find myself staring at a familiar Old West-y typeface glowing it’s intense red neon glow against a familiar field of white. Sam’s Town, golden place of my memories, Arcadia Of My Youth, we are reunited.

I navigate into the parking structure and as I approach the elevators, I’m met by, nay challenged by a particular sign, a warning plaque that bears wording every bit as grim as those warning open mine shafts and imminent crocodile attacks: no firearms allowed.

Hey, fuck you, Sam’s Town.

Ha ha. The library and courthouse say the same thing. Difference is, those are Government buildings and carrying there will end you up in prison whereas all private property here in Nevada can do is ask you politely to leave. Fuck off, Sam's Town.

See, I’ve been asked why I, out of all the places in the country, nay the world I could have chosen to relocate, why I picked Las Vegas. And it basically boils down to this:

1: the climate is great. Having lived in Reno/Tahoe my whole life, If I never see another flake of snow as long as I live, it’ll be too soon, and
2: Las Vegas is the craziest, most batshit bonkers place in the Union, full of some of the lamest, most hilarious people of whom to make fun. Vegas basically is a Saturday in The Haight every night. Full of the most interesting, entertaining people to watch make complete jibbering assholes of themselves and
3: I get to carry my firearm.

There are three objects which are never, ever out of reach, my cell phone, my flashlight and my pistol. Whether it’s a J-frame in a pocket holster or a Glock autopistol in a nice leather inside-the-waistband holster, a pistol is never out of reach. And I’m not the only one, practically everyone I know, from a sweet-natured grandmother in her sixties to a hot-headed filipina hustler all carry. It makes us feel safer, knowing that our lives and the lives of our loved ones are in our hands and not someone else’s.

Man how did that get there? Der waffen ist verboten!

Like all martial disciplines, carrying a firearm is no different than studying ju jitsu or learning boxing. You don’t do it to get in trouble, but to learn to avoid trouble, to spot the places where trouble congregates and deftly avoid it. None of us, nobody to whom ascribes to any martial discipline are particularly looking for a fight, but damned if they’ll go into one underprepared if one comes looking for them.

‘sides there’s all that “inherent rights” shit that those who wish to control us wish to strip from our very bones like a school of hungry Amazonian piranha. So fuck the bullshit, up the irons, I carry expressly because you, and fucksticks like the shitcocks that run Sam’s Town don’t want me to.

Entering Sam’s Town, I immediately was overtaken by that sense of foreboding dread, that feeling of nostalgia ruined. The Sam’s Town I remember was a fun place, a delightful throwback to Old West Victoriana, with gilt print wallpaper and rough hewn woodwork and bars with peanut shells on the floor. The Sam’s Town I remember was a tacky tourist trap dive that didn’t seem so cunningly, cynically engineered by a group of market testers and focus groups to meet the requirements of a client looking to build a theme park rendition of what people think the Old West was like, it just was.

This Sam’s Town, the one on Boulder Highway and Tropicana is exactly that. So cold and calculated to resemble people’s half-memories of what they thought Victorian Times were like here in the Old West, which Honestly I find amusing in itself since the architecture design here is more reminiscent of Post-1906 San Francisco than 1880s Nevada – which according to the signage around the property is what they were going for, rooms are named Tonopah, Goldfield, Mesquite, Carson and Virginia City.

Enclosed facade surrounding the animatronics park. All these windows are facade only, there's nothing behind them - a complete photographic metaphor for this entire city.

The casino floor wraps around an enclosed park, skylights overhead let through the dazzling yellow light from the beating desert sun but keep out the soft breeze and occasional gentle desert rain. The park is one depicting transplanted florae and animatronic faunae that (aside from the one lone Bighorn) do not reside anywhere near this casino property. Supposedly every hour there’s a show, but I ain’t gonna stick around in this rutty joint long enough to catch it. Having been involved with lame casino animatronic shows, I can tell that it pretty much involves follow spots moving around, shining gobos through fog machines while the robot bald eagle gives a speech about the majesty of the wide open terrain of the Wild West, completely unaware of the irony of its situation, being completely enclosed within an empty facade.

View down on the park from inside the glass elevator.

Facade. Now I’ve used that word before to disdainfully describe my feelings toward the empty, soulless casinos here in Vegas, and if that word can be used to aptly describe anything, it describes this park around which Sam’s Town wraps.

See, you’d think that all these windows would be the hotel rooms, looking out onto the lame little park below from behind an approximation of the San Francisco-style attached townhouse high rise apartment motif the place is going for, but they aren’t. This entire property is ringed by an empty facade, a fraudulent depiction of success and wealth and business. To think that this tiny casino off on the edge of Las Vegas would be one to house a thousand room hotel is preposterous. It’s as if the owners and operators of this casino knew that they’re smallest of the small fry and they needed to build themselves a big presence to flex their muscles to the rube tourists who blind booked a room on Travelocity and ended up stuck at Sam’s Town. “At least we’re not in a lame small hotel.” They’d lie to themselves.

Sam’s Town is emblemic of why I find this city so distasteful. Style over substance, flash over bang, sizzle over steak. It’s the dead empty eyes of a heroin addicted stripper begging for you to pay attention to her and throw a twenty her way while she debases herself for a pittance of a handout.

There’s no class, no elegance, no refinement or grace, it’s just a shitty dive in a shitty part of a shitty city. Fuck Sam’s Town. The arcade here is a piece of shit too. How come every one of these casinos has the same six games and no Neo Geo MVS to be seen anywhere?

[1] recollection fuzzy, made more so with Dewar’s and menthol cigarette smoke.