Friday, October 8, 2010

The Strip & Petcast are LIVE on Saturday

Those of you who keep up with me on Twitter know I've been at the hospital with Walt all day since he collapsed around noon. He's admitted and it looks like he'll be OK, so as of now we are planning to do The Strip and The Petcast tomorrow from noon-2 PT. You can hear us then at LVRocks.Com.

The Strip goes first at noon. It's a TOTALLY 80s episode featuring interviews with "Lost Boys" star Corey Feldman and Expose singer Jeanette Jurado. Feldman is headlining at House of Blues on Oct 23 and Expose appears at the Henderson Pavilion on Saturday night. Odds are, however, we won't have time to play much of those interviews on the live show, seeing how there's a ton of Vegas news to discuss.

The Petcast comes up at 1 p.m. Guest host Jen Prosser and I will be interviewing holistic pets expert Stacey Turis, who just came out with a new iPhone app to help pet owners trying to keep it natural for their animals. Then, author Karen O'Toole joins us to discuss her book Orphans of Katrina: Inside the World's Biggest Animal Rescue.

As always, you can listen live at via LVRocks.Com and join the chat with fellow listeners. Or wait and grab the podcast version via iTunes, Zune or that nifty "Listen Now" player on TheStripPodcast.Com.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

FBI: Vegas is #3 for terror targets

The Las Vegas Sun has a piece today quoting a top FBI expert at a conference here saying that Vegas is the 3rd top American terrorism target. The quote from Geoffrey Williams, FBI supervisory special agent:
"Beyond New York and Washington, D.C., I would challenge anybody to say there's a city that, if you perpetrated an attack, would attract more media attention. Between the Strip, Nellis complex (an Air Force base and range) and Hoover Dam, we're a huge threat city."

Not a big surprise, really. I did a story on this for US News & World Report in 2003 and for The New York Times in 2007. I guess I'm due again, with this news, though, since it's interesting to hear it from someone like that.

Y'know what would be fun? I mean, if we weren't talking about death and destruction? To rank Vegas resorts as to where they belong on a list of the most appealing targets. Look at which the wire service UPI seems to think, given how they adorned their rewrite of the Sun's story:

Can't you just see Osama in his cave right now, plotting ways to take out the Main Street Station and the freedom represented by the chunk of the Berlin Wall encasing the urinals?

Personally, I figured Slots A Fun would be the first to go. Or maybe Circus Circus' demonic clown. Or, God willing, the F'blew.

LVW Col: A Gaybashing Vegas Theater Owner

This LVW column's sure to kick up a fuss. Already, some supposedly liberal theater people are leaving comments making excuses for this outrage and the insult-hurler defends himself by saying he can define "faggot" any way he wants. Surely, he wouldn't imagine that about the n-word, of course. I'm not clear yet where to respond at the moment, so stay tuned. But here we go. -sf

Insurgo’s founder should be ashamed
of his gay-bashing message to a critic

This was a pretty horrifying week for gay youth in America. Aside from the Rutgers student who leapt from the George Washington Bridge after being surreptitiously broadcast having a dalliance in his dorm room, teens in Rhode Island, Indiana, Texas and California also killed themselves at least in part because of the anti-gay bullying they endured.

It reminds us that words don’t just hurt, they kill. And that’s why I am going to do something the Las Vegas Review-Journal refused to do; I’m going to show my readers, in full, a message posted to the Facebook site of Tony Del Valle, the R-J’s openly gay theater critic:

“you’re a piece of shit, man. i can take a bad review any day and i definitely have shit nights as an actor. but youre just such a fucking piece of spam about it all. you cant just write the review. youve got to demean, you’ve got to insult the company and the effort of doing it at all. the union redemption offering at the end was just faggoty pissy bullshit. it was womanly. seriously. fuck you.”

The person who posted that passage was...

Read the rest at

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Parade of Vegas Stars To Shine For Reid?

I interrupt my writing marathon to bring you news that in a first -- but surely not final -- celebrity appearance in the Harry Reid-Sharron Angle race, Harrah's headliner Rita Rudner has narrated this quite funny campaign ad for the Senate Majority Leader.

Rudner put her name on a Reid fundraising email blast today, too, with cringeworthy lines like: "I love comedy, but Bush, Rove, Angle and these extreme Tea Partiers cannot be laughed off - we've got to work together to defeat them!" Wayne Newton has already offered his support, but who knows if he'll actually appear.

Can't wait to see who else from the Strip or other celebritydom might swoop in. Pretty doubtful Angle can get someone other than, say, Ted Nugent, to shill for her. Maybe that goofy band I YouTubed at the Searchlight tea party rally might make a visit?

I'd love to balance this post out with some clever or funny pro-Sharron Angle ad, but I haven't seen any. This below is the best I've seen from the right, and it's really not that great:


Last week's LVW Col: Stratosphere's Other Big Shot

Sorry, I forgot to post this and a few of you asked where it was. FYI, you can also bookmark this link to find all my Las Vegas Weekly columns. -sf

Stratosphere’s other big shot
Ruby Malalay’s made a hobby of the property’s rides
- and set several records


Stratosphere employee Ruby Malalay thinks I’m a total wuss, and she’s probably right. She wants me to join her on the Stratosphere’s X-Scream ride, a long, green vessel that cantilevers 866 feet over Las Vegas Boulevard.

No thanks, I tell the 76-year-old pipsqueak nearly a foot-and-a-half shorter than me.

“You are scared?” she asks.

Uh, yeah.

She shrugs, lets it go and does it herself, leaving me off to question my virility. Thrill rides are not my thing, so much so that I’ve turned down many assignments asking me to grade Vegas’ roller coasters. What would be the point if I was going to keep my eyes as tightly shut as possible until someone told me it was over?

To Ruby, thrill rides make life worth living. She’s done the Big Shot, which hoists you 160 feet into the air at 45 miles per hour, at least 6,458 times. She’s twirled around over the town 64 feet over the edge of the Stratosphere on Insanity more than 1,000 times, and she’s plunged on the SkyJump, which lowers you 855 feet in 60 seconds, eight times. The aforementioned turn on X-Scream marked her 3,085th go. She tracks her times on the Big Shot and X-Scream in a notebook at home; she’s less enthused about Insanity, so she doesn’t keep such meticulous records.

Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com

Gay Endorsements Give Reid More Credit Than He Deserves

I'm so confused.

I have a great deal of respect for the gay activists who wrote up the endorsements for the 2010 election from the point of view of gay issues, a consortium known as Nevada Impact. Many of them are my friends. And if one were to examine the Harry Reid-Sharron Angle race based on their friendliness to gays and lesbians, it's kind of a no-brainer after Angle claimed she didn't even want campaign cash from companies that provide health benefits to the same-sex partners of their employees.

But this endorsement explanation is mystifying:

ENDA stands for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, prohibiting employers from firing or mistreating gay employees on the basis of their sexual orientation. And the people who are writing these endorsements are the editors and publishers of Vegas' gay magazines as well as some of our most significant activists.

Oh, and ENDA hasn't passed. In fact, you might recall this:

Eight out-of-town activists were arrested in July stopping traffic on the Strip trying to light a fire under Reid's ass to get a vote in the Senate for ENDA.

It hasn't happened.

What's even more confusing about this is that the same group included the same erroneous claim in their endorsement of Reid in the primary in May. They were publicly rebuked for that then, too, by Mark Ciavola, a conservative gay activist who blogs at RightPride.Org.

There are two other curiosities in these endorsements:

  • I was unaware incumbent Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki was "for our issues," especially when Nevada Impact's 2006 endorsements indicated the Republican supported banning gay marriage in 2002 by signing the anti-gay-marriage pledge. That's the same pledge that the endorsers this year specifically refuse to forgive Brian Sandoval for signing even though the Republican gubernatorial front-runner says he supported the domestic partnership law that passed last year.
  • I'd like someone to show me the quote where Republican CD3 candidate Dr. Joe Heck said he doesn't believe HIV causes AIDS. I don't buy that one.
Mostly, though, I don't get how they credit Harry Reid for passing ENDA ... again. Embellishing his record seems unnecessary given the opposition, so what gives? They want these endorsements to be taken seriously, right?

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Show is UP: Pete Rose

Alrighty, people. The latest show is up. Actually, it's been up since late Saturday, as iTunes or Zune subscribers knew. Click on the date below to get it to play or right-click on it to download it to listen at your leisure. Enjoy. -sf

Oct. 3: A Sweeter, Thorn-Free Rose
SPECIAL REISSUE: Pete Rose's bitter 2007 appearance

Three years ago, Pete Rose was still pretty bitter when he spoke to Steve about his banishment from baseball and the inequity that he’s still not eligible for the Hall of Fame while the villains of baseball’s steroid era are. But these days Rose has mellowed and, as you hear, is humble and contrite about his past misdeeds as well as patient for the day when he might be reinstated. This interview was recorded in early September before Rose was honored for the 25th anniversary of breaking the all-time hit record, and he is clearly excited about that moment. He continues to sign autographs for pay 15 days a month at the Field of Dreams at the Forum Shops.

In Banter: Vdara death ray mania, F-bleau's fire sale, Rod Stewart, Wicked and EXPOSE!!! are coming, Miles hearts CityCenter, RIP the spunky Tony Curtis and more.

Links to stuff discussed:

Pete Rose’s site and schedule at Field of Dreams
The initial RJ, AOL, Today and ABC stories on the Vdara Death Ray story
The R-J and Sun’s follow-ups on Vdara Death Ray
The Vdara Death Ray in Bluff The Listener on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”
A picture of the Bellagio’s boring Conservatory for the fall
Stiffs & Georges on whether the death ray will sink Bobby Baldwin at MGM
Steve’s Las Vegas Weekly column on how much Miles’ family liked CityCenter
Tony Curtis Central, including links to our old shows and Steve's 2008 LVW column
Steve's AOL News obit about Tony Curtis
Hear the spunky part from Tony Curtis once again [NSFW]
Yelp! On Julian Serrano and Todd English PUB
Rod Stewart
is at the Colosseum, years after his Harrah’s lawsuit
Expose is playing the Henderson Pavilion for $10 a person
The R-J’s report on the Wicked preview event, plus a Twitpic that Steve took
The Smith Center For the Performing Arts’ site
VegasTripping.Com on the F’bleau fire sale
Angel Management Group takes over Pure
Soon-to-open Cosmopolitan names its nightclub and is hiring 5,000 people
The VegasQuiz app from the fine folks at RateVegas

Tropicana To Build Ginormous Sign

The fine folks at the Tropicana are letting no moss grow under their toes as they remake their resort. The latest plan, which comes to the Clark County Commission on Oct. 6 for approvals, is the erection of a 40,950-square-foot sign on the northeast facade of the property. That's significantly grander than their current permission to have one 150-square-foot sign, so they have to get a variance.

According to the description in the public documents, it will involve projections of advertising "of on-premise information only" upon a 225-by-182-foot surface of the 325-foot-tall Paradise Tower.

Oh, and it'll have sound as well as video. And you thought Brad Garrett seemed big in "Raymond."

I'm having trouble figuring out exactly how it works, but here's the explanation:

"The video image will be projected onto the Paradise Tower from 4 windows, that house up to 12 projectors, enclosed within a proposed 544 square foot, 17 foot high modular structure located on top of the existing 27 foot high low-rise building, located 261 feet northeast of the Paradise Tower. The applicant states that the modular structure will be screened by an existing decorative parapet and will not be visible from the right-of-way. The video projection system will display a series of still images and brief full motion videos portraying events and promotions for the resort hotel. Some of the images may be accompanied by music, voice, or other sound effects."

County staff recommend approval but don't want it up and running for six months. They want to make sure this won't be a significant distraction to pedestrians or drivers. Which is, given the intersection we're talking about, really funny when you think about it.

One question, though: Will this be projecting into guest rooms? That's how it sounds, right?

[h/t Sparky of Las Vegas.]

The RJ, The Sun and The Angle Tape

Today may very well be the day that the Review-Journal's credibility in covering the Harry Reid-Sharron Angle race evaporates once and for all. As of now, there is still nothing anywhere on the R-J's website about the secret tape that the Sun's Jon Ralston landed and posted of a private meeting between GOP hopeful Sharron Angle and Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian. She had wanted to get Ashjian out of the race, concerned he could split conservative votes and cost her the race.

It's not even that the tape is all that shocking. It certainly gives the Reid folks plenty to work with, what with her hypocritically offering Ashjian to drink of her "juice" in the form of access to Sens. Jim DeMint, Mitch McConnell and Tom Coburn after beating up on Reid for all his backroom dealings. But while some are fascinated by the awkwardness that comes with Angle having scathed the Republican establishment in advance of addressing the Republican establishment on Wednesday, that's nothing new. Recall any number of interviews in which she's said the same thing, not to mention the secret tape I received and posted in August in which she also rambled on about resisting Washington's effort to co-opt her. Attacking current and recent Republicans is part of her schtick and ultimately bolsters her credibility since, even in private, she is truly dismayed by GOP spending over the past 20 years.

Yet for the Review-Journal to ignore the new tape altogether is simply journalistic malpractice. They didn't need to get something in this morning's paper -- the Sun didn't either, in fact -- but they have a website, however ridiculously arranged, and could have blogged something last night or at least by 2 p.m.4 p.m. TODAY. Has the Review-Journal simply given up on trying to cover this race as exhaustively as the public deserves and expects?

Maybe it's the childish notion that if Ralston had it the R-J can't touch it? That's certainly a game Ralston plays occasionally, but Ralston is a sole operator who has the prerogative to pick favorites. The R-J, on the other hand, is the state's largest full-service newspaper, and the paper of record must reflect that this tape has emerged and will be -- fair or not -- a potent political weapon in the weeks to come.

As blog readers know, I don't take quite the same view of the R-J as Ralston. To Jon, the paper could never and will never do anything right. I cringed last week when Ralston ranted about some cousin of the R-J-owning Stephens family who gave money to Republicans as more proof that the paper is thoroughly corrupted. Both of Ralston's bosses, KSNV owner Jim Rogers and the Greenspuns, have given and raised significantly more money to/for Democratic groups and candidates and have also made their views of the candidates exceedingly public to no criticism from Ralston. (The Greenspuns have given more than $370,000 and the Rogers family more than $200,000 to federal candidates since the 2006 cycle, almost all of it to Democrats. Frederick? $0 to anyone.)

So I disagree with Jon's overall write-off of the newspaper itself. Both publications have serious flaws and challenges, and even a recent Los Angeles Times commentary that Ralston routinely references as skewering the R-J for partisanship also contained these lines:
  • The liberal Las Vegas Sun persistently finds bright spots for Reid...
  • The paper (delivered inside the R-J, in a novel arrangement) sometimes seems to treat Reid as a Great Man of the Senate...
  • Sun staffers winced in February when Greenspun wanted to put on the front page an editorial praising Reid...
  • the Sun favors Reid
So Nevadans have it rough finding a media source that comes close to providing even a perception of earnest objectivity or fairness. And I'll continue to argue that overall the R-J does a fairly good job of covering the general news and a very fair job of presenting national and international news stories. Also, it's website is inane.

What I probably can never do again, however, is praise the R-J for its coverage of the most important state election in Nevada history. I don't know if it's partisanship, jealousy, laziness or incompetence that has the Review-Journal ignoring the Angle tape. And I don't care. It shouldn't matter. It's a disgrace any which way.

New Yorker: CityCenter Neither a City Nor a Center

The current issue of The New Yorker takes on CityCenter and the results are pretty brutal.

It's ostensibly an architecture review by a Pulitzer winner, and on that score several of the buildings get pretty good marks individually. But the damning conclusion is that, despite Jim Murren's vaunted city planning studies and art history minor and ongoing blah-blah theories about the project, it fails to accomplish anything that Murren has claimed it would. To wit:

Even though there is more density to CityCenter than there is to anything else in Las Vegas, and more sophistication to its architecture, it doesn’t feel urban. Its planners have crammed more square footage into a tighter space than anyone else has managed in Las Vegas, and that may make this place seem like an antidote to sprawl. But it still isn’t much of a center, or much of a city. Indeed, as you drive around the site, you suddenly wonder if CityCenter only appears to be different from the rest of the Strip. After all, cutting-edge contemporary architecture by the likes of Libeskind and Foster has been migrating steadily into the cultural mainstream for years. Now, perhaps, it has reached the point where it is familiar enough, and likable enough, to be just another style available for imitation, like the Pyramids or Renaissance Venice. CityCenter is the Las Vegas you already know, but in modernist drag.

That, of course, is a fancy way of saying precisely what RateVegas' Hunter Hillegas is quoted as saying in my L.A. Weekly piece from last year before CityCenter opened:

“They like to say that CityCenter is unique, and you won’t find the word theme anywhere in their press material,” he offers. “But it’s city-themed.”

There is some other interesting stuff in Paul Goldberger's piece, namely that he rejects an idea explored in some depth on the last episode of the Vegas Gang podcast that the project ought to have been built in stages. That, Goldberger says, "would have been too restrained." He also lays much blame for the failure of Harmon on Lord Norman Foster, the architect, for an uninteresting building regardless of its construction snafus.

CityCenter's saving grace, beyond the Veer Towers which he finds cool and dramatic, is one thing almost everyone else agrees sucks: The Crystals mall.

Jagged, crystalline shapes are characteristic of Libeskind, and while they have proved problematic in some of the museums he has designed, here they inject the normally dreary precinct of a shopping mall with a shot of adrenaline; they also provide some unexpectedly grand spaces, which accommodate interiors designed by David Rockwell.

Yeah. Because you want your malls to look like airplane hangars and feel empty and absent of activity regardless of how many people inhabit them. And Rockwell's mammoth penis really resolves that.

Still, it's an interesting take from a sophisticate who, of course, is mentally stuck in early 1990s Vegas. He spends nearly half his piece arguing CityCenter as an antidote for "theme-park Vegas" and ignoring the fact that the last themed casino, the Aladdin, opened more than nine years ago. Since then, we've seen Wynn, Encore, Palazzo, Trump, Signature, Palms Place, South Point, Suncoast, M, Aliante and Red Rock Resort. Wow, CityCenter really turned that tide!

[Top photo of CityCenter taken moments ago from the balcony at the unthemed Signature.]

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dear Righthaven...

Quit suing small chump. The Vdara Death Ray story has provided you a chance to go after HUGE fish. The list of publications that have ripped off Mike Johnson's sci-fi-esque graphic of the sun hitting the hotel and refracting onto the pool deck grows every day, and most of those offenders have much, much deeper pockets than the hapless schmucks you've been going after.

Here, I'll start a list for ya!

Now, I'm sure Righthaven CEO Steven Gibson's super-secret, proprietary method of finding offenders (translation: Google searches) have carried this process this far, but I'm highly doubting that it'll pick up on reuses of copyrighted artwork. So I'm here to help.

P.S. Congrats, R-J, for proving just how seriously you take copyright theft. Copyrighting is so important that, as your top lawyer Mark Hinueber told a Society of Professional Journalists gathering, it is nearly fundamental to the very foundation of the American way of life. But, on the other hand, someone who steals from you? She ought to be a United States senator! Cognitive dissonance much?

(Hat tip re: Daily Mail to Mark Wike)