Friday, October 5, 2007

A Pete Rose Afternoon!

I'm very busy this morning finishing Pete Rose' memoir, "My Prison Without Bars" in advance of my 3 pm late-lunch and hangout session with the baseball great for some stories and "The Strip" podcast. If you have questions for Pete, leave it on the blog.

Wish me luck! I hear he's very cantankerous. I promise I won't ask him if he's gay, "strapped for cash" or any of the other stuff that's gotten me into trouble on the show!

OJ Room Rate Discount!!!

So congrats to the Palace Station and the Palms for opting not to exploit the OJ hysteria, but today the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas proved the whole mess to be an irresistible opportunity.

The court has scheduled the next hearings in the armed-robbery case for Nov. 8 and 9, so today we get a press release from the Nugget announcing that there are special media room rates starting at $79 for Thursday and $159 for that Friday for "members of the press covering these hearings." And there's more!

"Along with this special hotel room rate, the hotel will host a furnished media hospitality room which will offer office amenities such as complimentary internet access and fax, as well as refreshments such as coffee and chilled bottled water. This hospitality room will be available to media hotel guests, 24-hours-a-day."

How nice, huh? I don't know how you're supposed to prove you're a journalist when you reserve, so I imagine anyone who's in for those days can "mention this offer" at 1-800-634-3454, as the release states.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Harrah's Rio Tower Problem

Often it is stated that the local newspapers lay off the casino giants because, of course, the Strip is everyone's bread and butter in Vegas. If some crime pops up and then seems to vanish from the news, the local media is usually accused by outsiders (and some insiders) of covering up, as if Gary Loveman or Terry Lanni can call Thomas Mitchell at the R-J and have coverage killed.

The R-J's output this week proves the lie in that. The paper's probe of safety inspection violations actually managed to get local officials to force Harrah's to shut down six rooms in the Rio's Ipanema Tower because it seems the hotel may not have obtained proper permits for its 2005 remodel job.

Six rooms in a tower of 1,448 may not seem like much. But county inspectors are saying they're finding evidence that the hotel company didn't seal holes drilled in concrete properly. It sounds like the county is going to be crawling around the tower for months now, given that they're saying they'll need to check every single room.

The question I have is: Clearly the media is not covering for the gaming company. But why is the county allowing the entire tower to remain open if they suspect safety issues throughout?

Bravo to reporter Joan Whitely for her boffo work on this.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Jan Jones' Assault on Oscar Mayor

Jon Ralston had an astonishing chat yesterday on his TV show, "Face To Face," with Harrah's VP Jan Jones that included some incendiary remarks. The episode isn't available online yet but will be at this link for a few days once it is. Jones, of course, is Mayor Oscar Goodman's predecessor.

Here's some of what she said, courtesy of Jon's daily email blast, the Ralston Flash. See Jon's site here.

On Goodman's remarks to Bob Herbert of the New York Times (read his column here):

"It was inexcusable. Mayor Goodman is elected to represent the people. It's fine to be flippant. It's fine to walk out with showgirls. But, you have an obligation to maintain a sense of dignity and stature about the city you represent. Going off to the New York Times about why we should open up a brothel district downtown is disrespectful."

On whether it's safer for prostitutes to be in legal brothels:

"Trafficking of women is better for women? Having a mayor of a city stand up and say that is somehow acceptable? Making that a way we characterize the City of Las Vegas where many of us are proud to live here, proud of our neighborhoods, proud of our schools, wanting our children to be proud of where we grow up?

I travel not only the country, but the world. I still find myself more often than not having to explain about the real Las Vegas.

The stereotypes all still exist. The first thing they say is crime, corruption, trafficking in women. It's difficult when you know a completely different city.

They (tourists) don't find themselves here for the seedy down and out reasons that are often characterized. They come to have a good time, and they do have a good time. They come to vacation, recreate, gamble, spa and a number of different reasons. But, all of a sudden making this a city about prostitution, what right comes with that? Crime, drugs ... stop it."

On why Goodman doesn't face more scrutiny for his comments:

Somehow people think it's funny, and maybe that's a sad commentary. When our top elected officials are seen as comedians and caricatures, instead of statesmen, is that the direction we want to go?

On whether there's a sense that Goodman's not taken seriously by business leaders:

I think there is quite a bit of that. Nobody wants to offend Oscar, because he's the mayor and he's obviously not shy about the comments he'll make. But, I don't think that's about leading.

Somebody asked me what Oscar should be looking for in his last four years. Oscar, everybody's going to have a legacy. What's your legacy going to be? Bobblehead dolls? Or are you really going to look to make some definitive changes that leave your imprint on the community you served for 12 years? 12 years of service, there's something to be said for that.

On whether he deserves credit for the moves he's made downtown:

"I think that's all fine. I really do. Most of that land, respectfully this is a long process, was set aside before Oscar.

Don Snyder and I have been working on the performing arts center for almost 15 years. That's the time it takes. I hope the furniture mart is an extraordinary success. Downtown needs that. I hope they find a way to link Fremont Street into that corridor. I think all of that is very good. So, focus on that. Don't focus on demeaning the good things you've done by saying foolish things like creating a brothel district."

Yowza! Them's fightin' words!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Strip is LIVE at 7:05 pm PT Tonight!

Join us in two hours for this week's live show, featuring interviews with daytime performers Ronn Lucas and Mac King! Lucas offers some really terrific clues as to how ventriloquism really works and talks about Bill Clinton seducing his wife, sort of. And Mac King explains why he's not green with envy over the success of childhood friend and fellow magician Lance Burton.

Plus, the trivia question, the poll, news from Vegas, your letters and the Top Secret Tourist Tip of the Week.

See you later at LVROCKS.COM. Or be that way and wait till Thursday to download the podcast!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

OJ Memorabilia Is Worthless

Thought you'd all like to see my piece in Monday's NY Times on the relative value of O.J. Simpson merchandise and that of others with scandals in their midst.

Read it here. I'm especially proud of getting the closing quote into print!

Sunday's Papers Full of Stuff

A few fun and weird things to ponder about today's Sunday paper...

1. First and most importantly, CONGRATS to my "Petcast" co-host Emily Richmond, crowned Outstanding Journalist of the Year by the Nevada Press Association for her consistent excellence in covering the education system. Incredibly well deserved!

2. The R-J ran the above photo from John Locher run with its Sunday recap of the week's news. That's a protester flipping the bird at Dick Cheney during the veep's visit. It is incredibly weird that a family newspaper would publish a picture of someone making an obscene gesture. In fact, I've never seen such a thing before. If this were TV news, my partner tells me, the FCC would prosecute/persecute.

3. Am I the only one creeped out by this well-meaning cartoon (below) from Jim Borgman which ran on page 3D in the R-J today?

4. Terrific piece by Benjamin Spillman in today's business section about people buying fractional ownership in private jets. It's excessive, even with Spillman's anecdotal lead about the sad-sack case of a Vegas woman with a hip replacement who simply couldn't handle commercial flights anymore to fly to her second home on the Monterey Peninsula, but it did give me some story ideas nonetheless.

5. The Review-Journal's Thomas Mitchell, in touting his own staff's award-winning efforts in the same competition in which Emily won big, claims he got more than 3.3 million hits by Googling "newspapers are dead." Odd, since I just did it and I got about 9,700 hits. See my results here. Or, even better, if you Google "newspapers-are-dead" your choices plummet to 2,900. See? A search of "newspapers are dead" without the quotes around it or the hyphens does bring in more than 4 million hits, but it's an irrelevant search because Google drops the word "are" and you're getting any page that has the words newspapers and dead in any context. Seeing how newspapers write about the dead all the time, it's surprising the hit count is so low.