Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gays Screw Up Strip Traffic, The Wrap

So how often do you see something like this in Vegas?

In fact, almost never. The cop spokeswoman in my AOL News piece says the last political protest to disrupt traffic on the Strip was a good 15 years ago, so far as she can recall. Even the AIDS Walk, when it went along the Strip instead of downtown, took place on the sidewalk.

Yet for a good half hour, southbound traffic at Nevada's busiest intersection -- LVB and Tropicana -- was largely halted by eight GetEQUAL activists with that banner attempting to embarrass/inspire Sen. Harry Reid over sluggishness in passing ENDA, a workplace non-discrimination bill that has languished for years.

The results were quite colorful. A limo driver nearly came to blows (the wrong kind, har har) with one of the banner-holders. I sympathized; it was ridiculously hot out and sitting stuck on the Strip in traffic would make me lose it, too. Especially in my piece of shit car. So maybe I don't feel quite as much for folks in a limo.

The cops claim they got there six minutes after they got the call. There's probably important follow-up to be done on why (a) it actually took more than 20 minutes and (b) the cops lied about when they arrived (1:14 p.m.) when everyone was there with watches, cell-phones and time-stamped Tweets to prove otherwise. Given that a terrorist attack would collapse this economy even more and the oft-stated worst-case scenario would be some bomber in the middle of that very high-profile intersection, it's quite, quite alarming. I highly doubt the local media will dig in on this, so it'll probably be up to me.

Anyhow, you can see all the pix in my Flickr set. There may be others in my TwitterPhoto stream, too, with my requisite on-the-spot description/snark as they were transmitted.

This shot is interesting for two reasons:

First, the banner on the pedestrian crosswalk stayed there for nearly two hours -- and nobody was arrested for putting it there. So expect more of that, perhaps even this week as Netroots Nation, the liberal blogger/activist confab, brings a lot of political energy to the city.

Second, that Las Vegas Monofail sign is stupid. The arrow should point to the right, since the station is across the street at MGM Grand. God help the hot, disheveled tourist who doesn't get that those two signs are related or, given the huge number of international travelers, can't even read the English.

I just want to thank this guy above and his cohorts for remembering to grab my laptop bag as I ran all over the place taking photos and doing my thing. And PLEASE don't tell my partner I just left it there. (And no, I'm not worried about him reading this. He never does.)

I couldn't resist, amid all the mayhem and arrests, the fact that New York-New York folks were carting Häagen-Dazs® tubs into the resort. They couldn't spare one? For gay rights? Or sweaty journalists?

One of the GetEQUAL dudes brought his dog, Marley, which means that tomorrow I'm going to have to cover a PETA protest.

Speaking of PETA, I am reminded that they have done some protesting recently on the Strip. But, again, I don't think they did any civil disobedience with arrests and screwy traffic and all that jazz.

So how about a little perspective, huh? This homeless guy, to whom I gave $5 after I shot this photo, was using the crosswalk banner for shade. Something tells me his employment problems are NOT about being gay, but you never know.

And, finally, as I headed back to the Tropicana to get in my car and go write, I saw that all had returned to normal rather quickly.

I did not give this guy $5. He looked healthy, clean and well-fed, and I didn't think that anyone sane or unafflicted should be rewarded for torturing themselves in this heat. Which, I am aware, means that I've declared today's activists and journalists insane. I'm not sure anyone would disagree, though.