Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Strip + Petcast LIVE Saturday 4-6 pm PT

Join us live from 4-5 p.m. PT at LVRocks.Com on Saturday as we record two new episodes of The Petcast including one with Andrew Schechter, the referee for Animal Planet's PUPPY BOWL! He'll be on the line with Emily and me around 4:15 pm PT.

Then, 5-6 p.m., Miles and I record a new episode of "The Strip" featuring my conversation in Montreal with Cirque du Soleil CEO and president Daniel Lamarre. Even if you read my Las Vegas Weekly cover story, you haven't heard the half of what Lamarre had to say about all things Cirque, Vegas and beyond. Not to mention, Miles and I have two weeks of Vegas news to catch up on.

So come on out and chat with fellow listeners, see us on the webcam and drink every time Miles curses. Or wait for the podcast versions. Fine by us either way.

Wynn Bashes Obama Some More

Last week, after President Obama's reference to Las Vegas as a bad place to blow some cash when saving for college set off a fury in these parts, I had asked to speak to Steve Wynn for my AOLNews.Com piece. His spokeswoman told me he wouldn't be available by my deadline, so I moved on. Just now, as I was prepping for this week's podcast, I found that they had, in fact, sent along a statement from The Steve about The One.

Since it's Steve Wynn and his bowel movements seem to matter to everyone obsessed with all things Vegas, I figured I'd go ahead and put this on the record since I seem to have it exclusively:

“The president seems to have a proclivity that is a strong tendency to bash Las Vegas at every opportunity that he gets. He seems to have forgotten that the tens of thousands of people who work in our hospitality industry as cooks, housekeepers, porters, stewards, dealers, doorman, waitresses, cashiers and all the rest, probably voted for him and are now the victims of his ridicule and disdain. The president’s uncontrollable desire for inflammatory rhetoric has taken a very unfortunate turn against the very people who had hopes that he would help them.”

By the by, many folks have written to dismiss this flap. I wouldn't. Look at this:

Amazing this story ( remains No. 1 after t... on Twitpic

My piece was No. 1 for three days on the fourth most-popular news site on the Web. Clearly, people found it of interest.

Good Super Bowl signs, re: #Vegas

[UPDATE: AOLNews.Com just posted my piece on Vegas and Super Bowl betting.]

We don't get uplifting Vegas economic news much, so let's enjoy it while it lasts, shall we?

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority projects Super Bowl XLIV -- a.k.a. The Big Game/Super Party for those afraid of lawsuits -- will fill up 83 percent of the city's 148,941 rooms, up 5.9 percent from last year even though there are now about 8,000 more rooms now. Of course, without those extra rooms this weekend's occupancy would've been 88 percent, according to my calculations. But still.

Interestingly, the NFL will hate Vegas anew for projecting the non-gaming economic impact at $89.7 million because that pretty much debunks a 2007 study claiming a $463 million economic bonanza for the Miami area from hosting the 2007 game. Y'see, only about 100,000 people go to a Super Bowl city each year, about a third of the predicted number of people who will be in Las Vegas this wet weekend.

How could 100,000 people spend $463 million but 278,000 spend just $89.7 million? Some illicit accounting, that's how. The answer, per reporting by the Palm Beach Post's Jeff Ostrowski, is that the South Florida figures are literally bogus x 10, most likely jacked up by NFL forces to encourage Miami to plunge $250 million into a stadium upgrade if they want another go at the event.

This, from Sarah Talalay of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, makes the point perfectly:

University of South Florida economics professor Philip Porter said the game's impact is neglible. He said he examined data from the Florida Department of Revenue showing expenditures in Miami-Dade County were $3.318 billion in February 2006 and $3.308 billion in February 2007.

"If the Super Bowl generated $463 million each year," Porter said, "the NFL team owners would build a stadium in the desert, host their own game and keep all that money."

Of course, it wouldn't be our desert. No, no, can't have that.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pink Confirms Friendly's Greatness!

Holy moly! This is exciting! Remember when I wrote about this?

THAT is a Reese's Pieces Sundae from Friendly's, the Northeastern ice cream/restaurant chain that is probably my sole nostalgic yearning for my Long Island youth. It's got 5 scoops of butter crunch ice cream, hot fudge, marshmallow sauce, peanut butter sauce, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, Reese's Pieces and a cherry.

Heaven. As a kid, I'd get $5 a week allowance. I'd ride my bike to town (in Syosset, N.Y.) each Saturday, pick up a Richie Rich or Archie comic and go to Friendly's to have a Sundae. Picture this...

...but smaller and maybe less adorable.

Well, I'm not the only one obsessed with this concoction! Check out the first thing Pink has to say:

P!nk - Rapid Fire Trivia (Official Music Video) - The best bloopers are here


So, Pink, when are we gonna open our Friendly's outlet in Vegas? Hmmm? It would run rings around Serendipity3's lame-o frozen hot chocolate crap!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

TOLDJA: NY Post's Chinese Oopsie!

In her "undercover" piece for the New York Post on her visit to the prostidude, Mandy Stadtmiller wrote that the Chinese tattoo adorning America's first legal and licensed manslut, Patrick L. "Marcus" Norton, means "to seek." As I wrote in the prior post, it fit neatly in her narrative that he had turned to the gigolo life because of a mommy complex and an ongoing search for attention, love, a woman's touch. Here's a close-up of that tat:

As many of you know, I lived in Beijing from 2000-02. I never became fluent and can only recognize some characters. However, it's become a bit of a pastime for me to ask clueless Laowais what their Chinese tattoos mean. Without fail, I later find out they were quite wrong.

And so it is with the Rosa Parks of Whores. Thanks to Tony Zeng, my former China Daily colleague and now a writer for Bloomberg in New York, for letting me know this is actually the symbol for... well... I'll just show ya:

Oops! Luckily for the New York Post, the tattoo isn't something obscene or nutty. That's the problem NBA players run into when they get tats they think say "Love" and "Harmony" but actually mean "Fuck you very much." Then they appear on Chinese TV because, post Yao Ming the Chinese are gaga over the NBA, and controversy erupts.

As it happens, had Stadtmiller checked it out, she would've had a brilliant ironic bit for her hit piece. You see, Chinese characters frequently have multiple meanings, all roughly in the same neighborhood. And Norton's tat could mean "destroy" or, perhaps even more pertinent...

How neatly that would've fit her narrative, huh? Bummer!

NY Post "Does" Prostidude (Sorta)

Someone had to. In fact, I'm a little surprised it took this long. And, to think, I gave the person who did it her first job!

Mandy Stadtmiller of the New York Post flew out to the Shady Lady Ranch to have a go at prostidude Patrick L. Norton, America's first legal male whore. I had unmasked him last week because I couldn't figure out why the press was allowing him to go solely by his "performance" name, Markus. Mandy didn't fully name him, either, but she did acknowledge his actual first name is Patrick.

According to the piece, she was nude with him, received massages from him and cavorted with him in a hot tub but did not "sleep" or "make out" with him. To paraphrase her own repeated sarcasm over Norton: Uh, OK.

Instead, she used the Post's $500 plus travel expenses to extract from him his motivation -- she concludes he's got some sort of mommy complex because he can't just be a warm-blooded male who loves sex and gets off on being paid for it -- and shot lots of photos. Click on this image to get to her slideshow, which she is in:

There were some minor discrepancies in both Norton and Stadtmiller's stories. Norton claims he's only been with six women in his life and lost his virginity at 23 -- which Mandy seems to believe -- even though he did two porn scenes and speaks expertly about how one knows if a condom is breaking. Stadtmiller, on the other hand, claims to have listened to "lite-romance" radio for 2.5 hours en route to the brothel even though the signal for 106.5 FM dies about 20 miles outside of Vegas. (Satellite radio, maybe?) Also, I'm worried about what it says about Stadtmiller that she was "sweaty, stinky" after driving two hours to the Shady Lady in an unusually chilly winter. Reminds me of Matthew Perry getting burned by a hot car seat in January in "Fools Rush In" even though the average temperature is around 50.

We learn a few interesting things about Norton via Stadtmiller:

* He's well-endowed
* He's got a superlong tongue which, oddly, turns off Stadtmiller
* He's got a circus going on in his mouth. (See Photo No. 3)
* He's got hairier armpits than Levi Johnston
* He does not use Viagra or Enzyte
* Either he or Mandy -- it's unclear -- thinks it's Karma Sutra, instead of Kama Sutra
* He's not only Rosa Parks reincarnate but also Van Gogh, Lady Gaga and Moby
* His favorite "actor" is Steve-O. (They look alike, right?)

I do question his claim, stenographed by Stadtmiller, that his Chinese tattoo means "to seek." I find numbnuts who get these sorts of tattoos rarely actually know what they say other than what the flunky at the parlor told them. Any of my old Beijing friends want to tell me what this character actually says, if anything?

The strangest thing about this piece is the contempt that Stadtmiller has for Norton when, essentially, both are using their bodies for their work but Norton is doing so honestly.

I can't say that I expected whoring herself out while pretending to be offended by whoring oneself out would be Stadtmiller's destination when AMANDA came to The Daily Northwestern in the early 1990s. I was co-editor of the New Reporter's Bureau at the time, where we tested out potential staffers. She made the cut. Very few didn't.

There she is, pre-Post and now. She'd go on to do some PR work for Northwestern after graduation -- ghostwriting for the university president, press relations for the medical school -- but now she's an entertainment writer going undercover with mansluts and dominatrixes.

Nothing wrong with that. Few would have pegged me for a future prince of Las Vegas journalism, either, back then. The constant mockery of Norton just wore me down, I suppose.

Also, I'm jealous. I'd hatched this great idea to go out to Shady Lady and ask for a line-up with Norton. I wanted him to reject me, per his claim to Details that his sphincter is not for sale. Like Mandy, I would be going for the comedy. My problem is that, unlike Mandy, I'm not a lonely divorcee spinster -- her words!!! -- but happily married. And I couldn't decide what I was going to do if Norton put a price on, say, his tonsils, instead. From the sound of how well he's doing at Shady Lady -- Stadtmiller was his second client -- it's distinctly possible he'd broaden his market.

But now I suspect someone up there is on red alert for journalists. And I'm just not credible as (a) a trucker passing through or (b) a dude who couldn't get any way down in Vegas and had to come up here for it.

Am I?

* * *

POSTSCRIPT: I was emailing my Chinese friends via Facebook to get an answer to the tattoo and look at what the word verification thing was:


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This Week's LVW Col: The Art of Provoking

My columns are frequently inspired by readers and listeners. You'll write, "Hey, check this out," and I do. This time around, though, my reaction was the exact opposite of the reader who wanted me to take notice. Hopefully that's OK, too. Keep the thoughts coming, anyhow. Here's this week's piece. -Steve

The art of provoking
The LED installation at Aria is the best evidence that CityCenter dares to be different



"It's important to stay clean on all levels."

"Overeating should be criminal."
"If you live simply, there is nothing to worry about."

Quite a set of adages, no? The sort of thing a priest might use for the basis of his Sunday sermon or that attendees at a recovery meeting might utter.

But no. These and some 200 other truisms greet visitors retrieving their vehicles from the subterranean valet car pick-up at Las Vegas' newest, most expensive hotel-casino, Aria at CityCenter. On purpose. Paid for by ... Las Vegas' newest, most expensive hotel-casino, Aria at CityCenter!

That's a long, long way from "What Happens Here, Stays Here," huh?

Oh, and I love it. I just can't figure out for the life of me where MGM Mirage got the guts to do it.

Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com

Photo by Steve Marcus

X-Rated Scrabble

Just took a quick break for some Scrabble on the site I play on, Internet Scrabble Club. I lost this game, but that's probably because I wasted that S from PENIS trying to amuse my opponent after the first few weird words. My only regret: I could've laid down VAGINAS vertically and made "SHAT", also a legal Scrabble word.

Back to work now.

Obamaslam Day Deux

The colorful U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-The Strip, took to the House floor today to continue the pummeling of The One, who wrote a twisted and sure-to-be-inadequate response to the uproar over his comment about Vegas yesterday. She had gotten her licks in in my AOL News piece on the topic, too, but one line of argument in her House screed was a little strange. Watch:

See, I'm not sure that this argument -- "wholesome family entertainment" -- is going to win the day, are you?

The drama has had some odd results. I totally loved Review-Journal political scribe Spillman's opening paragraph and found the Las Vegas Sun's J. Patrick Coolican was perhaps the MSM's most sober observer. Yet in offering a piece already asking whether the President was actually wrong in suggesting people shouldn't blow money in Vegas if they're saving for college, it seemed Coolican was missing the point. This wasn't about the wisdom of Obama's notions, it was about Obama's now-repeated abuse of Vegas as an example of profligate activity and the stunning lack of political savvy that it took to step in this particular morass again. The latter suggests startling malpractice on the part of Obama's crew.

The last time this came up, the context was different -- he was referring to Vegas because there had been a specific controversy about a bailed-out bank taking an extravagant junket here -- but this time, he could've said just about anything and chose Vegas. Why, for instance, didn't he say, "You don't buy tickets to the Super Bowl if you're saving for college" or "You don't go to Disney World if you're saving for college" or "You don't go flying your wife to New York for dinner and a show if you're saving for college." The ESPN, Disney or Broadway fandoms would've, absolutely, been up in arms? And none of them are suffering as Vegas is.

The drama also resulted in some strange bedfellows, specifically Jon Ralston actually agreeing with Mayor Goodman. Alas, Ralston had to let his snark out somewhere, so he Tweeted a slam against the Review-Journal's website for linking prominently to Sherm Frederick's blog post regarding the Obama-Vegas flap. The great irony of that dig was that on that very morning, Ralston's own newspaper, the Las Vegas Sun, sprawled a bright, huge banner atop its front page where the biggest news of the day belongs that heralded the newspaper's gratitude to Sen. Harry Reid for killing the Yucca Mountain dump.

Sure, there are differences and here they are: The LVRJ.Com crew are incompetent and idiotic and that's well-established but that decision was no doubt made by some flunky somewhere on the fly. And even if Sherm himself called ol' Al to get that treatment, it just fits a longstanding pattern of vanity that is not surprising. Maybe he was hoping to stutter on Fox again. Who knows.

The Sun's print edition, on the other hand, is a planned effort by Pulitzer winners that comes together over the course of a full day and involves meetings and debates. If I was going to choose one to crucify for journalistic malpractice, it would have to be the team that decided that the Sun's obvious effort to provide a nice campaign-ad visual for an embattled Harry Reid was the most important thing happening that day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Obama v Vegas, Part II

UPDATE: Obama sent Reid a letter. Not really an apology. Very weird, actually. Kinda makes it worse.

Sigh. Barry, Barry, Barry. TheHill.Com is reporting that President Obama, at a town hall today in New Hampshire, said this:

"When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college."

Sound vaguely familiar? Maybe that's because Obama took a licking for months over LAST February's invocation of Las Vegas as an example of inappropriate travel in a speech in Indiana. That time, he said that banks who take bailout money from the government shouldn't use the money for junkets and stuff. The exact quote was:

"You can't get corporate jets. You can't go take that trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime."

The first time, he was taken apart by Mayor Goodman and others for allegedly implying that all business travel by everyone to Vegas should be a recessionary no-no. Goodman took the remarks out of context and the media allowed him to do so and out of context remains where they've stayed.

Justified or not, that's the history. So for Obama to get up again and make discouraging remarks about travel to Vegas is quite ill-advised. His point, that people shouldn't indulge in luxuries they can't afford could be stated in many other ways without directly referencing a specific place, especially one that's in so much economic pain right now. Trust us, Mr. President, people have already cut out their Vegas visiting.

So Obama is about to nailed for it. In spectacular fashion. I'm surprised R-J Publisher Sherm Frederick hasn't gotten to it yet, but maybe he tripped on a puddle of his own drool.

Irony: This was supposed to be a good day for Obama in Las Vegas. By most accounts, today he and Sen. Harry Reid killed the Yucca Mountain nuke dump project. Oh well.

Harry Reid Under Racial Fire - Again

We just posted on AOLNews.Com my piece analyzing a claim in a Black History Month essay by Harry Reid that Reid was somehow instrumental in the integration of Las Vegas and the gaming industry. Since I'd never heard that before, I started asking around and it seems that the claim is questionable.

You can read that here.

Now here's the odd part. When I read the Reid's piece, the claim of integration wasn't what initially drew me in. It was this part, the second paragraph:

Whether visiting our relatives in the hospital after a successful blood transfusion, waiting in traffic at a stoplight or watching our president speak from the Rose Garden, the contributions of black Americans are ingrained in our nation's DNA.

This struck me as a very strange passage. It seemed like he was marveling at the notion that blacks give blood or drive cars. As it happened, I was able to take it apart and figure out that what I was missing was that black scientists had invented the blood transfusion and the traffic light. I have to believe that most people don't know that, though, and this essay never explains it.

Turns out, I'm not the only one baffled. CityLife editor Steve Sebelius told me in our interview for the AOL piece he was surprised, given Reid's recent controversy about having praised President Obama's lack of a "Negro dialect," that his people would write something so clumsy and unclear.

And Rainier Spencer, the founder of UNLV's Afro-American Studies program, just found the passage "a little patronizing." He's no fan of segregating black history into a specific period anyhow, but if you're going to do it, pointing out accomplishments like this seems unworthy.

"If a black person hadn’t invented the traffic light and Charles Drew hadn’t invented the transfusion, the result would be meaningless in terms of black history," he said.

Your thoughts?