Saturday, June 19, 2010

Donny Osmond on The Strip TODAY

Yep, we're live today from 5-6 p.m. at LVRocks.Com as Donny Osmond returns to the show where in 2007 he first publicly announced his negotiations for a Vegas headliner gig. This time around, the topics include Gary Coleman, Justin Bieber, the Gores, Dancing With The Stars, depression and wearing a diaper -- err, a loincloth, on stage. And more.

Join Miles and guest-host Amy, who promises to wear shoes, as I'll be traveling back from California at showtime. They go on from 5-6 p.m. PT and you can hear them, see them (maybe) and chat with them at LVRocks.Com.

The Petcast will precede them from 4-5 p.m. PT with Emily and guest host John Katsilometes. I feel so replaceable!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This week's LVW Col: Vegas & Idaho

Major, major props to the LVW peeps for the headline on this week's column. Dunno how I didn't think of that one. Enjoy! -sf

Vegas’ own private Idaho
Sun Valley is the retreat of choice for
Sin City’s captains of industry



The World Cup match between England and the USA has just ended in a tie Saturday at a packed watering hole called Whiskey Jacques and between the boisterous crowd and the din of the many TVs, I can hardly hear myself think.

I had just met up with Kevin Stuessi, the former vice president for food and beverage at Wynn Resorts, who a few years ago abandoned Las Vegas to live here in Sun Valley, Idaho, the rustic retreat of choice for so many of Sin City’s movers and shakers.

As I mentioned, it is quite noisy, so I do that nod-and-smile thing that people with hearing disabilities do when we can’t hear in social situations and don’t want to admit it. Stuessi introduces me to the woman he is with but I don’t catch it, of course, so I assume this is his wife.

Kevin tells his companion that I’m visiting from Vegas, and I explain that I am in Sun Valley to write a magazine profile on Parry Thomas, the legendary Nevada banker whose willingness to loan money to casino projects in the 1960s weaned the city off the mob and provided the capital for growth. Thomas, now 88, summers on his horse ranch here with his wife, Peggy; their only daughter, Jane, is a full-timer in Sun Valley who occupies a home of her own on their farm.

When I mention the Thomases, the woman lights up.

“We’ve been family friends my whole life,” she tells me. “Jane used to babysit for me and my sister.”

“Really?” I say to her. “Do you know them from Las Vegas?”

The woman nods.

“Oh, cool,” I say. “What do your parents do?”

Stuessi and his friend, Kevyn Wynn, exchange a priceless look and bust out giggling.

“They’re Steve and Elaine Wynn,” she replies.

Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com

Vegas! The Mall

Reader/listener Stuart Poyner of Russia spotted this one, and it's a doozy: In Moscow on June 1, the Crocus Group opened Vegas, a $535 million shopping mall that is, according to a breathless report by The Moscow News, "is slated to become a success story in Moscow’s commercial property market." It's 4.3 million square feet, of which 1.4 million are already leased. The Crystals, owned by MGM Whatchamacallit, was immediately jealous.

Our city's name isn't the only thing they ripped off here. The Luxor Entertainment has 9 movie screens adding up to 1,318 seats. The headline the piece, predictably, is "What happens in Vegas." And there's an M electronics store, but I suspect that predates and is unrelated to our internationally unknown M Resort.

There's also a 53,000-square-foot amusement park with a 5D movie theater (aside: what the hell is 5D?), an indoor pond, an indoor ice rink and -- a country after Gary Loveman's own heart! -- a Ferris wheel. Check out some interiors, courtesy of photos posted on both Flickr and a Flickr-like site where they're public domain:

Vegas! The Mall has an Oriental Bazaar, Fashion Avenue and Jewelers’ Street, which "is something that hasn’t been done in Russia before," the press release, err, the news report said. That explains the extreme variance on decor and architecture. But there's some America in there, too -- that's a Subway's in the food court, right?

Loads more pix are found on this site, along with some snark from Russians that included:

If Russia wants inspiration for mall design, they need look no further than Poland. Some of their new malls are great. I guess they going for the gaudy circus look? They even called it 'Vegas'. Couldn't a big country with a long rich history like Russia come up with something Russian

aaaaaaai! it's disgusting! really... taking abit of Las Vegas to russia? all of the kitch elements added together... Indeed a great example of non-architecture... People may like this and talk about it :P but not in the Architecture sub-forum :P

Poland is the new world king of mall architecture! Who knew?

Here's the best part of the Moscow News piece:

Meanwhile, Crocus Group also said that it is going to develop the brand Vegas, and the developer plans to open similar shopping and entertainment centers in Kuntsevo and in Crocus City.

I did a similar story in China way back when because a housing developer named their subdivision in Beijing the Orange County Homes. But this is goes a lot further. I thought Vegas equaled gambling, but here the developers are banking on it to equal excess, materialism and fun of other sorts.

No word on whether casinos or legalized prostitution is in the offing, but with a name like Kuntsevo, it would seem likely, no?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Going Off The Grid For Real

On Monday, freelance photog Isaac Brekken and I are driving to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for a piece on an archeology dig up there. There is no cell or Web service up there, just a sat phone in case of emergencies. We should be out of range for 24 hours, camping out up there and everything. I'm already having withdrawal shakes. But that's why there will be no Tweets and Facebook updates and if you comment on this blog, I won't be able to approve it until I'm back in civilization.

Going back in time, indeed. Eeek.