Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Readings

Miles and I took a road trip to California for the wedding of our friends David and Jeff, and I've got some fun stuff to share about that later. But because Desperate Housewives is starting shortly and then Mad Men's season ends, I wanted to do this post first about the stuff worth noting and/or remarking about in the Sunday papers...

* God Bless You, Howard Stutz. Two days after that ridiculous report by Sharyl Attikisson of CBS News on gaming-industry political donations to John McCain, the Review-Journal's gaming-industry writer Howard Stutz did the same story, only he did it right. He forewarned me on Friday via e-mail that his was coming and I crossed my fingers that I wouldn't have any serious complaints about it. I really don't. If you go back to my critique of Attkisson's painful four minutes of ineptly-researched garbage, what did I wish she had done? Provide context. Analyze both presidential candidates' records on gaming issues, such as they are, and also what sorts of gaming matters come before a president or Congress. Discuss the intra-Wynn political schism. Realize that there are players in Vegas other than Adelson and Wynn. Speak to credible experts. Consider that these people may give for many reasons, including personal political philosophy, and not merely their jobs running casino companies. Howard did all of that.

I would've liked it if Stutz had compared this year's giving to past presidential-year cycles. But unlike Attkisson, Stutz never claimed there were any records being broken. CBS breathlessly trumpeted this as some sort of new trend. That may be true, it's still not been shown in numbers. But I imagine Stutz didn't look at the story this way because he doesn't approach the subject of Las Vegas or gambling as an exotic, shady, predatory oddity of an industry. It's just the business he covers and at some point prior to an election as big as this one, he needed to examine this angle. So he did. Without judgment. You know, like journalists are supposed to.

* Paris is For...Shopping? The L.A. Times Travel section normally covers Vegas really well. That's why the Las Vegas angle of a chart on recession-era alternatives various expensive international excursions was surprising in its weirdness. The feature suggests, for instance, that instead of going to Hong Kong, you might go to Chinatown in San Francisco. And the last item suggests coming to Paris Las Vegas instead of Paris, France. Predictable enough, sure. But get a load of their reasoning:

"This hotel-casino's central Strip location and link to the monorail make it a shopper's delight, whether you're looking to browse the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian or the Forum Shops at Caesars."

Huh. That's funny, because neither the Venetian nor Caesars are on the monorail line. And, in fact, if the appeal of Paris LV is a nexus between the monorail and shopping, it's worth noting that there isn't a single resort on the monorail line that has a decent mall of any repute. A very, very strange thing for anyone to write, no?

* Married ... with the Rev. Presley! Sean Whaley did a really interesting piece in the R-J about an odd quirk in Nevada law that requires that anyone striving for a license to administer weddings in the state declare a religious affiliation. In other words, you can't be an atheist and perform legal weddings unless you happen to be a judge, too. That's a good story. I might follow up on that one.

* Downsizing By, Uh, Farming It Out. In recent months, the R-J has taken a number of moves to save money in these troubled times, including reducing the number of pages of features coverage they provide and folding the section into others at least twice a week. As a result, they've got some terrific reporters being underused. Sonya Padgett and Corey Levitan come to mind.

So why on Earth would they be wasting the money to commission someone named Stephen Michael Shearer for an occasional series of profiles of Old Vegas entertainment figures? And not only did they hire this fellow, but they had another writer, John Przybys, profile the special contributor, Shearer! So I'm thinking, "Wow, this guy must be really something special to shove aside staffers perfectly capable of producing these stories!" Except from Przybys' piece, all I learn is that Shearer wrote a 2006 book on actress Patricia Neal. That's it. He's not even some Vegas old-timer himself with some valuable access and perspective other writers might not have. The piece indicates that Shearer has been an actor much of his life, but there's no mention of anything he's done that anyone would be familiar with.

Far be it from me to suggest that freelancers not get work. But something's a bit off when a one-time author who appears to have a rather slim resume is being treated as a celebrated writer that the paper's readers are being told should feel honored has graced it with his brilliant prose. Why the heck doesn't The New York Times profile me every time I write for them? I need to renegotiate that deal!

Shearer also goes on in his piece about how he plans to profile pre-1970s Vegas performers who, Przybys writes, "can't already be found in books or on the Internet." Except that his first piece, which ran today, is about actress Rose Marie, and most of the interesting stuff in here has been reported before and is easy to find online.

Others Shearer plans to profile include Phyllis Diller and Dick Smothers, the Przybys piece says. Boy oh boy! Don't know about you, but I can hardly wait! I'm so grateful the paper warned me in advance so when those fine Sundays come, I can handle my overwhelming glee!


Troy from Las Vegas said...

"... it's worth noting that there isn't a single resort on the monorail line that has a decent mall of any repute."

How dare you Sir. Obviously you have overlooked Imperial Palace.

Gary H - NLV said...

Steve, I don't get your Paris comment. You can easily walk from Paris to both the Forum Shoppes and the Miracle Mile.

Gary H - NLV said...

Steve, I don't get your Paris comment. You can easily walk from Paris to both the Forum Shoppes and the Miracle Mile.