Monday, December 31, 2007

Red Carpet: 40/40 Club Fun

The 40/40 Club is a new sports-themed nightclub with "an eclectic menu" that includes fried deviled eggs and southern-fried chicken sticks owned by hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, boyfriend of Beyonce. I did not have the stamina to stick around until they arrived, probably at about 2 a.m. I did get a bunch of fun pix, though.

The first recognizable star I saw was, uh, the Rev. Al Sharpton. It surprised others, but this was the third time I've seen Rev. Al on the Vegas scene -- he was in the audience of a Gladys Knight concert a few years ago. I don't remember the other time but it was, as this, a black-related event.

For a while, it was the predictable I'd-attend-the-opening-of-a-can-of-tuna crowd: Frank Marino, Nathan Burton and then Carrot Top...

We were getting sort of restless, having been assembled 8 p.m. along this area and having nobody of note show up for more than three hours. I was particularly fascinated by the Nicole Richie-lookalike in the blue dress and sprocket-silver boots from the local Fox affiliate in the middle shot. I'm always fascinated by "journalists" who hug and kiss all the stars and fancy themselves one of them.

Anyhow, eventually, we started getting a parade of major sports stars, including (in order) Charles Barkley, LeBron James and Alex Rodriguez:

I gave up on this red carpet when Mary J. Blige showed up. A PR woman, knowing I wanted to chat with her, nonetheless said to the singer, "Would you speak to the local Fox reporter?" And then, when done, the same PR lady said leadingly to Blige, "You don't want to talk to anyone else, do you?" Later, this woman would claim it was Mary's ideas who she spoke with, but as someone with a severe hearing disability, I can SEE exactly everything that's said. But, anyhow, here's Mary J -- and her very, very severe shoes...

I did get a very nice shot of one of Miles' reporters at KVBC, Hetty Chang, chatting up LeBron, who is 6-8. The disparity reminded me of my 2001 snapshot with Yao Ming in a Changchun, China hotel room. See it here. God, wasn't I young and my hair so short!

Evidently, I wasn't the only one who gave up; Richard Abowitz of the L.A. Times blog the Moveable Buffet checked out even sooner than I did. He will be live-blogging New Year's Eve tonight from the Strip, for those of you who feels sad you're not there. Read it all here.

I have not seen yet whether Jay-Z and Beyonce made it or, if they did, whether they made the wait worth anything to the print reporters who waited. Others who were on the "tip sheet," a press release advertising who would walk the carpet, included Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Jackson and Barry Bonds. Dunno if they were there, but I gave up when I realized while chatting with LeBron that my questions were too deep for this setting anyhow. Oh well.

But before I finish this, though, I wanted to mention that there was this huge hoard of people being escorted into the club, mostly very pretty women. I asked one how she got her invite and she mentioned, elusively, that she was from some "agency." Hmmm.

That does NOT explain how this reincarnated Robert Goulet got in, though...

My Uncle's Situation

Many readers and listeners have inquired about how my uncle, Richard Goldman, is after my lengthy vigil with him and my aunt, Susan, at the hospital in New York earlier this month. Richard has struggled with pancreatic cancer since summer of 2006, a rather long survival period. Anyhow, I figured I'd post this email from my Aunt Robin, Susan's sister and Richard's sister-in-law, informing the family of the situation. My parents are Neil and Joan, my uncle's brother and nephew are Larry and Morgan, my uncle's daughter (my cousin) is Heather.

It was sent today and starts from the beginning:

On Dec. 6, Richard was rushed to New York Presbyterian Hospital because the biliary stents were not working and his body was purging bile. Over the previous few days, he had been experiencing increasingly tremendous pain that wasn't really being addressed adequately at home. He was also having difficulty tolerating the hyperalimentation. When admitted, it was found that Richard had an infection, probably related to the hyperalimentation and, initially, his vitals were all over the chart. We did not anticipate that he would last more than a few hours, perhaps days.

I had been in Albany but came down and met them at the Emergency Room (with a short stop for a speeding ticket...) Since it was the weekend that Susan and Richard traditionally host a Hanukkah party, Neil and Joan were in New York and Steven decided to surprise everyone with a wonderful Hanukkah gift of being with us for the party; what was anticipated as being an overnight day visit, resulted quite a bit longer visit. Richard's brother, Larry, flew back from Costa Rica on Friday evening, and both he and Morgan camped out with us at the hospital. As seems to be the Friess family way, we all gathered to support Susan and Richard during those very difficult first days.

The room was large enough to accommodate a cot so Susan was able to stay over at night, and we made sure that she had someone with her from morning to bedtime. Neil and Joan extended their visit for a few days but, with a new business to run, had to return to Florida. Richard's condition deteriorated day by day, with his morphine level being adjusted higher and higher to combat the excruciating pain. Both Shoshana, Susan and Richard's rabbi, and Rabbi Shem-Tov, Heather's rabbi, visited and provided him and Susan with much needed succor. When articulate, Richard very clearly declared his wish that there not be any extraordinary care, no tests, no machines, no nutrition. He was very calm and determined, and wanted everyone around him to understand that he was at peace.

After 10 days of decline, suddenly, late on Monday, December 17, Richard became very much awake and aware. He asked for some apple pie. Over the next week, his condition seemed improved. His blood pressure, pulse and oxygen level was strong and his pain was being contained. He developed a great appreciation for the smell and taste of Pepsi, enjoying mouthfuls of it as if it were the finest wine. He would have a teaspoon of Jell-O occasionally. He was very conversational and very upbeat. However, he did not change his wish regarding extending his life. Susan engaged the services of a night nurse and was able to go home to sleep. This phase lasted for about a week.

Over the past week, he has become weaker. An MRI on Thursday showed lesions on Richard's liver. The oncologist, Dr. Sherman, suggested that Susan and Richard speak with a surgeon about the possibility of having a feeding tube inserted directly into his intestines (since his stomach was not processing food) and even hinted that if that were possible, Richard might be able to go home. Initially, Richard seemed interested in hearing more about this but unfortunately, the surgeon did not feel that inserting the tube would be a good idea. He said that given Richard's condition an hour long procedure would be very trying to his system, that this method of providing nutrition has a very high incidence for infection and that given the liver lesions, it was not advised.

He reiterated what the palliative nurse had said a week earlier that when 'shutting down,' the human body naturally compensates by producing endorphins so that people in Richard's condition do not feel hungry. We were assured that by not providing nutrition, we were not causing any suffering. In fact, he said, if the tube was inserted, it would be more for those around Richard than for Richard's sake. It would not improve his comfort level.

On the same day, Susan was notified that a bed had become available at a hospice that is just a few blocks from their home in Riverdale and we are hopeful that Richard will be moving there later today. Richard remains emphatic about his wishes for his care and the hospice would seem to be the best way to respect those wishes.

First Look: The Palazzo

OK, it's really late so I'll post my pix from the red carpet of the opening of Jay-Z's 40/40 Club tomorrow. Right now, I just want to get up this dozen photos of the first night of the Palazzo.

And I have to say, I am extremely impressed. In particular, there is an extremely dramatic and truly beautiful 20-foot waterfall that bridges the two floors that connect the Venetian to the Palazzo. It is breathtaking. Sadly, I had assumed it would still be running by the time I left the red carpet thing and it was not.

Below is the view towards the waterfall from the exit of the Palazzo casino. To orient you, the second floor of before you leads you directly into the Grand Canal Shoppes (and the Palazzo Shoppes will span around this area and then on the floor above the casino, when those stores are opened. As of now, all I saw open was a jewelry shop.) If you walk past and behind these escalators, you walk into the end of Restaurant Row, where Delmonaco Steakhouse and the B&B restaurant are. That was where I took the pix the other day.

Note: Click on any pic to see it larger.

Here's a closer shot of the waterfall. As I said, it's not on when I took this, which was after midnight. There was something quite mesmerizing about the enormity of it, the elegance of the pool (not attached) in front of it and the sheer audacity of the high ceiling. It really works, especially when coming from the Venetian.

Here's what the same area looks like from right above this waterfall. You can see the entrance to the casino down below.

By and large, the place is open for business. Here's what the front desk, front indoor atrium (with that big white statue) and the porte cochere look like. Behind the statue is the casino, to the left is the front desk, to the right is the valet entrance and the escalator down to the 40/40 Club. Take note of the wall of flowers behind the front desk in the inset to the right of inset with the big cup, as I am betting the media will be fed some info about how many live pink roses it takes each day to keep it looking as it does, a la Fleur de Lys at Mandalay Bay.

Here's some casino shots. It felt larger than the Venetian's, but that may just be because it was all one big, wide-open room, as opposed to the Venetian's which I think feels like it bends around and is shaped like an L.

There's a Grand Lux Cafe along the periphery and a casino lounge-bar with the pretty white-spired fixtures:

Alas, some things are still not ready. This is what you find outside the passage to the guest elevators:

These pix were taken with my new Sony Cybershot digicam, and I'm still working out how to use it, so my apologies that some of the color balance is a bit off.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Palazzo opens tonight

The Palazzo will open tonight in some form or fashion -- there's a star-studded red-carpet event in honor of the opening of the 40/40 Club, the Jay-Z nightclub. And the casino and Palazzo valet will be open, too. Unclear whether any guests will be in the rooms, although earlier reports in various places said not until next weekend.

I'm working on a piece about the Vegas celeb media, which explains why I'm going to go to the red carpet and do my thing. I'll snap pix and such, too, so stay tuned! I will not be going inside the club, however, as the story I'm working on is all about the paparazzi.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Petcast is LIVE on Sat

We're recording three new PETCASTs from 10-11:30 a.m. PT on Saturday! Come on down to the LVRocks.Com chat room and listen live.

This week we're answering listener questions and a whole lot more! Yay!

People Magazine's Smelly Question

I was struck at how strange this is and I'm wondering if I'm alone.

People Magazine's Managing Editor Larry Hackett and Washington correspondent Sandra Sobieraj Westfall had an interview with President and Mrs. Bush. They published part of it in the magazine this week, a benign Q-and-A that included just 15 extremely noncontroversial questions -- some submitted by readers -- published in a warm-fuzzy four-page spread. The stuff in the magazine was all fluff, chatter about Jenna Bush's upcoming wedding and the state of the First Marriage. I didn't really expect much more because it's People Magazine and, also, it probably would be boring to read his rote answers to the Iraq War and all that.

But tell me this isn't unsettling:

PEOPLE: Mrs. Bush, Julie Cregger, from Keymar, Md., writes, "My boyfriend was a Marine at Camp David and always said how nice you smell."
Mrs Bush: Oh really? That was so sweet.

OK. Umm. (A) That's not sweet, it's a disgusting and weird. And (B) That's the best People could come up with, a reader whose boyfriend is a straight-in-the-military stalker?

And here's the best part. Was Mr. Bush creeped out? Did he order the Secret Service to find out who Julie Cregger's stud muffin is and why he's been smelling up the First Lady? No! Here's what he said after Mrs. Bush seemed flattered:

The President: Obviously he didn't work in the gym.

Holy mother of GOD! What is wrong with these people? And, with no due respect, what if he DOES work in the gym? Then Julie Cregger's boyfriend thinks Laura Bush's sweat is HOT. Mmmm.

I'd love to point you to this interview, but for some reason, it's not anywhere to be found on the People website. I did find last year's Presidential chat, which was a lot better. (Less freaky readers asked hard questions about why the president isn't pressing his own daughters to fight in his unwinnable war and wondering how an anti-gay president can be so respectful and loving towards Dick Cheney's then-preggers lesbo daughter while giving the rest of us same-sex-lovers the wrong sort of shaft.)

Beyond the fact that the Q-and-A isn't online, there's also no Web extras from this exclusive visit with the First Couple at Camp David. Did they really only give them 15 questions? There's a photo in the magazine of Hackett and Westfall with the Bushes hanging out on couches. Both have recorders on the coffee table. Why don't we get to hear a podcast of the conversation? And, by the way, Mr. Hackett, if you go to interview the President of the United States, you wear a frigging tie.

The Palazzo's Extremely Soft Opening

I knew the Palazzo was still not quite ready, and it was reported first at RateVegas.Com that the 12/28 (today) date for at least taking guests was delayed. But I was still stunned when I took a gander over there to see what there might be to see (and place $40 on the Giants to cover the points versus the Pats tomorrow.) Above is a shot of the hallway from the Venetian's dining row that would lead into the Palazzo -- curtained off. I kindly asked the security dude if I could peek behind the curtain, and I saw, as you see below, that they're still doing basic stuff like painting and tending to wiring. Indeed, the reason this is so dim is because, it seems, the lights aren't on. Also, considering that they expected to be somewhat open by now, why no maps in the Venetian that include the Palazzo?

The R-J's Arnold M. Knightly reports today that the company, stuck waiting on county permits, now says they hope to have "some parts" of the property open before the official Jan. 17 debut, but what I don't quite fathom is, Why? They've already missed the New Year's bonanza. Is it really that valuable to them to get a couple of rooms occupied? And what would the experience be for the guests -- their FIRST guests -- if they're stepping over ladders and breathing sawdust?

I wondered what it looked like outside and I caught this construction dude on his laptop...

The Barney's sign looks great and hopefully they'll be rid of the portapotties before opening day...

But mostly, how irksome it is to try to walk by the project. I stood for 10 minutes in the chilly weather because a pickup truck needed to be escorted from the construction site to the Strip.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Strip is LIVE tonight @ 7:05 pm PT w/ Bette!

Join us for part one of our chat with the brilliant Bette Midler and a whole lot more tonight at LVROCKS.Com. Come on down at about 7 pm PT and enter the chat room for the final show of 2007, not to mention great company!

Otherwise, wait till Thursday and this week's podcast!

Re-Vote in Top 10 Moments Poll!

There were a clear dozen moments that were atop the heap for the Best Moments of "The Strip" in 2007, so we've reset the voting and you all get just FIVE (5) votes. Choose well. The poll is to your right! You have until 1/1. Results on the live show on 1/2, posted as a podcast on 1/3.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Is MIX lesbolicious and I missed it?

It didn't take long to find something to blog about once I touched back down in Vegas. Waiting for our bags to arrive, I spotted this ad below for MIX atop THEHotel at Mandalay Bay.

It's really a fascinating approach. First of all, the use of the word "liberal" is politically provocative and goes in a direction that Vegas entities rarely go. Vegas, as we all know, is where lots of conservative and/or buttoned-up people come and do things they wouldn't do and/or would disapprove of back home. Also, stuff that would probably turn them off of a political candidate if they knew they'd done it. (Think about how viable a city council candidate in Dubuque would be if it turned out he was visiting strip clubs in Vegas, for instance.) The point is, Vegas is a place that gives conservative fly-over-nation hypocrites the chance to be hypocrites. Being here is a suspension of the insincere morals that inform their politics. So I wonder if many would actually want it literally spelled out for them that their behavior is LIBERAL.

But beyond that word -- for which there are many synonyms that could have just as easily gotten the idea across to the advertising audience -- is the whole motif of this ad. There are two hot babes bosom-to-bosom on the right. If you can't see it, take my word for it -- their tits are pressed up against one another. And then there are the three men on the left, strategically racially diverse, looking over with varying degrees of interest.

Wow. That's quite an ad, no? Almost enough to make you wonder if it's a dyke bar to which men are invited to gawk.

And just a P.S. that has nothing to do with this: When exactly did McCarran give up altogether checking to see whose baggage was whose? The metal rails and the entire pretense, never all that serious to begin with, was gone. It used to be one of the few airports I flew to that actually seemed concerned about making sure people didn't steal luggage. I wonder why any thief would bother robbing houses or people when they can just walk off with mystery packages at the airport whenever they want.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

And we're back...almost

So very sorry for being so derelict in blogging these past weeks. I'll be back on track as soon as we're back in Vegas. To update everyone, my uncle has taken a surprising turn for the better, becoming more talkative and using less morphine than before. He may want to die, but his body's not ready. He remains in the fancy area of the NY hospital, but I left the vigil on Wednesday after 10 days of sitting with my aunt for several hours a day. Last I heard yesterday, she was trying to convince my uncle to allow the reintroduction of nourishment. It's unlikely he has a long time left, but it's also not as clear when he might go.

Anyhow, I joined Miles in Atlanta on Wednesday for a few days of visiting with his mother and stepdad here. And that's almost over, so we'll be home in a day or so and I'll be able to take stock on what's going on in Vegas when I'm back.

Monday, December 17, 2007

How About THEAria?

In an interview just now with MGM Mirage Chief of Design and Construction Bobby Baldwin about other matters, I asked him right at the end if they'd come up with a name for the resort that will be the centerpiece of CityCenter.

Baldwin said no, not yet, but he also noted that they THOUGHT that they had. Then they went to snap up all the trademarks for the name and found it was held by someone else, so gave it up and they're now back to square one.

The name they failed to get?



Friday, December 14, 2007

Going Out In Style at Fancypants Hospital

To some, this may seem a strange and possibly completely inappropriate post, but I write what moves me and I find the setting I've been in for the past week to be somewhat surreal. As most know, my 65-year-old uncle, Richard Goldman, is in the final stages of pancreatic cancer. It is heartbreaking especially because he is a lot of pain and still his heart seems far from quitting and also because he will leave behind my aunt, one of the neatest women I know who just lost her father six months ago, and my 18-year-old cousin. Rough stuff.

That said, this section of this hospital is NUTS. This half of the 9th floor of New York Presbyterian Hospital is known as the McKeen Pavilion, a relatively elegant section where, according to the rate card at the concierge desk, patients may enjoy the corner suite with a river view (that's the HUDSON River) for $1,150 a day. I shit you not. That comes, of course, with "daily New York Times delivery; complimentary spa robe and slippers, complimentary telephone and television, upgraded menu and afternoon tea service (room service style.)" Here below is the tea cart comin' round.

Here is what the view looks of the George Washington Bridge to the north and lower Manhattan and New Jersey to the south. (The NYC skyline is often much clearer, but weather has been overcast and gloomy all week.)

If the corner suites are a little steep, the same amenities apply to the junior suite ($990/day), delux river view room ($717/day) and private riverview room ($650/day). Each room allows one cot for visiting guests, but if you've got more fans in need of lodging, there are eight hotel rooms, each with two twin beds, private bath, TV, phone, fridge and coffee pot for $225/night. Frankly, THAT'S such a good deal in New York that I wonder if you can rent them even if you don't know anybody who's sick.

This is one of those hospitals that has a sense of fame surrounding it. While it's unclear what parts of the hospital or whether the McKeen Pavilion is involved, Richard Nixon, Joey Ramone and Malcolm X all died here or were pronounced dead here. Sunny Von Bulow, the wife of Klaus Von Bulow (a role that won an Oscar for Jeremy Irons in "Reversal of Fortune") has lain in a persistent vegitative state here since 1981. And most recently, Bill Clinton recovered from his heart surgery on this floor. There's a large atrium where a live pianist plays a few hours a day on weekends. The entire area is carpeted, which is one way you know you've left the ordinary, more hospital-like section of this floor and wandered into the Wynn of health care.

My uncle is neither rich or powerful and is not paying these rates. (For that reason, we actually don't get the tea, the robe or the daily newspaper. Fair's fair.) He ended up here because when he was brought into the ER, he needed a certain type of morphine drip that required him to be admitted immediately to a room, but there were no normal rooms available for another several hours. So the admitting ER doctor forced him into the posh section, and here we are.

One of the most intriguing parts of all this is the Windows on the Hudson restaurant, a white-cloth eatery with views of the river, a gourmet chef, a waitstaff in formal attire and calla lillies on each table. (The name is a little eerie as the World Trade Center had a famous top-floor restaurant called Windows on the World.) The menu changes regularly; tonight's offerings included tequila grilled shrimp ($7.50), kobe beef burgers ($14), grilled halibut ($18) and patti pan squash and baby carrots ($3.50). Below is an empty table with a view of the bridge that is unseen because of my flash and a group enjoying a night on the town.

We were going to eat in the restaurant tonight but when my aunt told my uncle she was leaving the room for a little while he surprised her by responding (he's been largely unresponsive) by grabbing her hand and rasping, "No." So we had the food delivered, and here's a shot of that.

We were having the grilled strip steak (with mushroom ragout and mashed potato), gemelli al pomodore and the orange tarragon chicken (with rice pilaf and haricot vert). Oh, and all the entrees come with popovers and strawberry butter.

Quite a place, huh? Oh, and I almost wi-fi, too. Like I said, NUTS. But in a good way.

Two Million Reasons

Here's this week's Las Vegas Weekly column, which is largely about, um, you.

Two Million Reasons: Why some Vegas-lovers won’t live here


Just as I was putting together the biweekly poll question I post on my podcast and blog sites earlier this month, the Review-Journal thudded on our driveway with a World War III headline declaring the Valley is now unofficially home to 2 million people.

Beyond acknowledging the fact that it’s a mystery to me how the housing market could possibly be crashing—and more spectacularly than almost anywhere, they say—if we’re having an unabated parade of new arrivals, I returned my focus to the audiences who listen to and read our Internet work and respond to our polls.

What you need to know about them is that they are a very large contingent of Vegas-loving people delightfully obsessive about this city. It is an incomparable but enormous groupie community centered around a unique geographic and cultural concern, with every minor change in land ownership on the Strip, every legal battle Downtown, every planning commission hiccup being thoroughly stewed over by attentive devotees throughout cyberspace.

So, I wondered, why do they live where they do? Or, as I asked in the poll with all due deliberate snark, “If you love Vegas so much why don’t you live here?” Of course, I must make the caveat that this is a totally unscientific survey except to say that it’s a self-selected group of people who are, by definition of being in my audience, enthralled with some aspect of Las Vegas.

Read the rest here

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ladies Nights and Vegas

I have a piece in The New York Times today about a complaint filed against the Las Vegas Athletic Club claiming their discounts for women constitute discrimination against men. If the Nevada Equal Rights Commission rules against LVAC, it could have a far-reaching impact on the Vegas nightclub scene where ladies-free and ladies-drink-free promotions are an important part of the business model.

The piece is here.

Any thoughts? Are any women offended by getting discounts?

We love Paula Poundstone but...

This is really, really weird. Paula Poundstone posted this trainwreck of a YouTube Xmas letter. Don't think you're alone if you shudder when her scary look first appears on the screen. But then it gets worse, with Paula reading off her lap some sort of not-funny Xmas letter of the David Sederis ilk. Her delivery is awful, given she's a comic who appears on TV and in concert regularly.

Check out the un-hot mess here. The cat at the end is cute, tho.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Show Must Go On

Alrighty... we're in a holding pattern here in New York, so we will be having the regularly scheduled LIVE episode of "The Strip" tonight. I'll be joining by phone for part of the hour and Miles and guest-host Amy will be in the studio with Brian Burke, artistic director of "...A New Day" and "Le Reve" to discuss Celine's final week as a Vegas headliner.

Join us live at 7 pm PT at LVROCKS.Com or grab the podcast later in the week!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Update from New York

Thanks to all who have been in touch regarding my uncle and his pancreatic cancer. I flew into New York and prebooked on the Super Shuttle from LGA to the hospital in New York, figuring that was the fastest and least expensive option. Please, y'all, never, never, never do that. It took nearly three hours for me to get from LGA to North Harlem, a crime and outrage.

My uncle, who is 65, was quite frail and a little deluded from the morphine. He was able to chat although he got irritable and tired after a short bit. But he was surprisingly gleeful to see me. I say "surprisingly" because he's always been a bit distant. This is my aunt's husband, and while I've known him most of my whole life, I've always had the sense he looked down on my part of the family. My aunt and uncle are the interesting ones, the DEMOCRATS who lived in THE CITY, exercised with a RACEWALKING group in Central Park and went to the OPERA, the BALLET and other such cultured activities. We were the unwashed but moneyed suburbanites.

In recent years, Uncle Richard has seemed to warm to me, largely because I followed such a
different path than my family and I turned out to be gay and a writer. But still, I didn't expect the gratitude I experienced when I entered the hospital room, un-self-consciously
embraced him despite his frightful appearance and asked him very bluntly if quietly about why he had chosen to pass on further care and what he was thinking about.

I stayed for a while, then went to Brooklyn to stay with my friend Adam. Now I'm heading back to the hospital. Still not sure how long I'm staying.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Here we go again...

For the second time this year, I'm on my way out of town in anticipation of a family death. My uncle, Richard Goldman, who has suffered from pancreatic cancer for about 18 months now, is now in the hospital and has declined all treatments outside of pain relief. Eighteen months means he already beat the odds on this savage disease; only 20 percent survive the first year. But the inevitable seems to be quite near.

As it happened, I was en route to New York on Saturday to surprise the family at our Hannukah party, which annually takes place at Uncle Richard and Aunt Susan's home in the Bronx. I was to return Monday, a very quick jaunt. Instead, it seems I'll be sticking around for longer than planned. The situation seems murky, but it doesn't make much sense to come home until it's over.

Right now, Miles and I still plan on a live show on Tuesday night, even if I have to phone it in and he has to handle the interview in the studio with "...A New Day" and "Le Reve" director Brian Burke. Not sure, however, how I'll get the unedited file to edit and post for the podcast. Keep watch on this space for updates.

Excellent Deals, Great Cause

There's a silent auction going on through Dec. 9 for a long list of pretty cool Vegas-related items and packages at what are, at present, offensively low prices. The auction benefits a charity called Family Promise, an agency that helps homeless Las Vegans get off the streets.

Go here and take a browse at the dozens of items, including a long list of Phantom-related packages, tickets for O, Blue Man Group, Stomp Out Loud and Gordie Brown, massages at Canyon Ranch, Starbucks stuff, art and, of course, "Gay Vegas" by yours truly.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

What's wrong with this picture?

OK, kids. I bought this as my Vegas-y part of my Hannukah gifts for my 14-year-old niece, who has become fascinated by cooking. So tell me, astute readers, what do you find especially weird about this graphic?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

More Proof Nobody's Awake at LVRJ.Com

I have loads of complaints about the Review-Journal's website, which is cluttered and ugly and offers virtually no editorial judgment. From one day to the next, it's a challenge to determine what the paper thinks are the most important stories. And so on.

So when I went to the site this evening, I thought the fact that they had posted as "breaking news" the score of a UNLV basketball game was a little strange. But then I saw the score and thought, "Wow, that really IS unusual." See it below:

Pretty wild, right? UNLV kept another college team to just 7 points! Holy moly! How is that even possible? Has that ever happened in the history of college or pro basketball?

Umm, no. They sorta left off a digit.

Yep. 83-78. And THAT is what they call "breaking news." Let's see just long it takes someone over there to notice the screw up. I'm not staying up all night, but if you come here tonight, visit LVRJ.Com and write a comment indicating the time and whether it's still up.

Oh, and to my lunch companion today: I know it's a cheap shot, but I couldn't help it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Silly Stuff From Steve

Miles is gonna kill me, but I can't resist. Click on the pic above and see what I did when I was supposed to be writing about Maria Bartiromo...

I showed you ours...let's see yours! Thanks to Troy for encouraging this waste of time.

Another Wynn-derful Night - 7:05 pm PT!

I've got to interview Maria Bartiromo (aka the Money Honey) in five minutes for a Vegas Magazine cover story due later today and crank a quickie for the Times on the Plaza Hotel name game, so I may not blog much today. But I wanted to remind y'all that the second, better half of my recent Wynn interview will be aired tonight during our live show.

This time out, Wynn discusses the Plaza's design, the details of the deal that wasn't with Bette Midler and what exactly he and Andrew Lloyd Webber have been doing hanging out together.

So, as always, join us in the chat at LVROCKS.COM or wait till Thursday for the podcast.

Next week: A Celine tribute with the show's director and one dancer who has been with "...A New Day" for its entire run.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Danny Gans MUST be coddled!

Here we go again with this silliness. You might recall that back in June, we took aim at the bizarro restrictions placed on subscribers of, a day-of free-tickets service that was scolding its patrons for telling non-members (well, they were telling me, anyhow) what tickets they were getting.

At the time, our heroes in this game was HouseSeatsLV.Com's competitor, VegasSeatFillers.Com, which didn't play such cloak-and-dagger games.

But then VegasSeatFillers.Com changed hands and became ShowTickets4Locals.Com, in part because the earlier domain name was far too honest for the bruisable egos of stars playing to half-empty theaters.

The other day, ShowTickets4Locals.Com went over to the dark side to "protect" the Mirage headliner Danny Gans. They may have been dwelling there for a while, but we just learned of it now. In normal notifications of ticket availability, the service includes a discreet, polite and seemingly optional paragraph about how showgoers are supposed to behave. Here's the one off the Fashionistas free-ticket notice:

"Please do not print this email and bring it to the box office. Once your ticket is confirmed with our operators, your name will be given to the box office directly. Valid ID required to receive your tickets. Please just let the box office know that you are on the guest list and do not let paying customers know you are receiving free tickets."

See that? Reasonable requests, asked reasonably. A little unrealistic, but whatever.

The Danny Gans ticket offers, however, included that paragraph but also included this, in these colors:


-Call the Mirage Box Office;
-Go to the Box Office before 7:00 PM;
-Go to the Box Office after 7:30 PM;
-Reserve tickets and do not show up.


If you do not pick up your tickets by 7:30pm they will be released for sale to the public.

Only call 671-0049 now to reserve your free tickets for tonight's show. If our lines are busy, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CALL THE MIRAGE OR BOX OFFICE DIRECTLY.

Wow. It's especially weird because when you go to the ShowTickets4Locals.Com site, Danny is right out front, so it's not like they're hiding from ANYONE that they give away Her Highness' seats.

In addition, this additional sentence was added -- hastily, it seems, based on the misspelling -- to the boilerplate quoted before:
If you breat the above rules you WILL be deleted from our system. If you are a Premium Member, you will not be entitled to a refund.

What I don't get is, what's the big deal? When you go to New York City to see shows, you're aware that some people around you had coupons, some people got comps, some people got group rates, some people were there at an appointed time to get specially discounted seats. Same goes for airlines; you must know that there are a silly list of reasons why your seat could cost twice that of the guy next to you.

And we're in Vegas! Even if it's less true than it once was, everyone already knows that comps are currency in this town. Some people are smarter, luckier or more savvy than others; they listen to shows like FiveHundy and "The Strip," they read sites like RateVegas and VegasTripping, they subscribe to the Las Vegas Advisor and the Las Vegas list-servs. They've done their homework, they're aware of how to find the good deals, they grab them and they enjoy.

Is someone who paid a full price going to be mad? I doubt that. Will they not buy their tickets next time in advance and wait for an online freebie instead? They might, but there's no way to predict that the shows they're here to see will be offered for free on the nights they want to see them, so it's their loss if they try that. And if they're not locals, this one's not for them anyhow.
Tourists can grasp the notion that living through the miserable heat of a Vegas summer and dodging slobs sucking on Eiffel Tower margaritas all year round ought to be worth something.

No, this is entirely about image. The Danny Gans crew clearly gave a stern talking-to to the ShowTickets4Locals.Com folks, indicating that Gans doesn't like having the perception that he can't fill a room without some help. And I honestly don't know if he can or can't, but this is the slowest time of the year, so there's especially little shame in it right now.

The irony is that all of these warnings and threats have done more to tarnish Gans' image than bragging to some eavesdropper that you're getting to see the show gratis. Consider this comment from one listener/reader who forwarded me the email: "
Can you believe this? F*ck Danny Gans. No other artist or show has all these warnings. Next it will be 'Don't look into Mr. Gans' eyes.' "

Ya think?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My Mamma Mia! Review

I'm amazed that I've never opined in anything published online about "Mamma Mia!" but Bay's comments from the "4 Worst Ideas" piece and a couple of emails made me think it might make good sense to post this entry from my guidebook, "Gay Vegas." Buy the book for all your gay Vegas-loving pals for Xmas by clicking here.

Mamma Mia!
At Mandalay Bay
Sun-Thurs 7:30 pm, Sat 6 and 10 pm
Price: Tickets start at $49.50


What could be more queer than a ditzy musical scored to ABBA music in which a gaggle of well-toned shirtless studs actually undress the lead male character on stage and slip him into a skimpy spandex wet suit while singing “Lay All Your Love On Me”? There's a story in here somewhere -- something about a young girl trying to figure out who her father is -- but even in that effort a gay surprise awaits her. The only off-key note when one of the female lead’s friends, a likely candidate for lesbianism, instead ends up turning all girly-girl in swooning over the man's-man of male leads.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Urgent: Petcast Re-Taping Dec. 2!!!

We recorded three excellent shows this morning, but a studio glitch mangled all the audio. SO, we're redoing it Sunday, 12/2, same times and same place -- join the chat and live show at! Our lineup, all of whom are gracious to return with us:

10 am: Iraq War vet Ron Portillo, Canines for Combat Wounded, on his effort to match rescue dogs with other injured vets.

10:30 am: Steve's mom asks for advice on her new Silky Terrier.

11 am: Frederick Lynch on his "My Turn" essay in Newsweek about spending $11K to save his cat.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Four Worst Ideas In Vegas

From my "The Strip Sense" column in this week's Las Vegas Weekly:

Big, bad and ugly: The four worst ideas in Vegas


Most of the time, the brains behind the Strip and Las Vegas get it right, at least when it comes to investing private money. The really great, viable big ideas get built in record time—hello, CityCenter and Palazzo—and the dumb ones—Las Ramblas and Ivana’s Tower spring instantly to mind—fade away before anyone is seriously hurt. And then there are the decisions and actions that baffle. Lately, there have been quite a few. Let’s take them out to the woodshed, shall we?

Read the rest HERE

Those Video Peepholes...

It has been brought to my attention that the video peepholes at the Skylofts at MGM Grand of which I was so enamored during this week's podcast have been noted previously by loyal listener and all-around Vegasophile Mike E in a 15-minute video tour he recorded last summer of one of the units. He's surprised the PR folks just got around to showing it off, but I suspect that's because they hadn't finished installing them in all 51 units when Mike filmed this. In any event, it's a terrific review of the entire space, and the video peepholes come up around the sixth minute. Click here or on the pic below to watch.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Thought this was kind of funny. As many of you know, my dad and I own a Panorama Towers unit that we haven't yet been able to flip. So I'm still getting loads of mail to my real home address from a variety of folks who wish to sell us stuff as new home owners. Oh, and there's a really heated battle on for the condo board elections, but who really cares?

Anyhow, today's mailing was a first. It came from Wynn Las Vegas. It read: "We cordially invite our Panorama Tower neighbors to come and discover Wynn Las Vegas and all it has to offer." And then there's the 411 on a cocktail party on Dec. 13 at DB Brasserie at Wynn.

I suppose it makes sense. There's no place to eat or shop or have any kind of fun at Panorama. Heck, the swimming pool at Tower II isn't even done and the closest restaurant is a very ghetto In-N-Out Burger. But Panorama and Wynn are neighbors the same way California and Colorado are.

I may go, just for sh*ts and giggles. And to see who else from Panorama is so starved for entertainment that they'll freeload off Wynn for an evening. Not to mention, what sort of pitch the Wynn folks have for us. And perhaps find out who everyone else is using to try to flip these turkeys. Howdy, neighbor!

Very Busy Today

I'm just very busy today, so I leave you with this really great piece from Monday's Las Vegas Sun, which I finally got around to reading this morning, about something we all take for granted -- the art at McCarran. Anyone who's ever arrived at the D Gates must have wondered about the giant map and some of the sculpture there.

Read the piece here.

And here's hoping Kristen Peterson, the only competent arts writer in Las Vegas, will follow up this piece as the D Gates turn 10 years old in 2008 and track down some of the then-elementary school artists immortalized on the fabulous cities-of-the-world tile murals seen by the D-Gate tram. I'd love to know what those kids are up to now.

Podcast Problems

UPDATE: As requested, I've posted an 18-min file that includes the Ellen interview and then the rest of the 11/22 show. Download it here or right-click to save it here.

OK. So here's what I did. First, I put the Ellen/Patti show up without cutting off five minutes of LVRocks.Com music in the front. So I went in and reposted that show. And when I did, somehow I cut off the last 10 minutes of it, so in the middle of Ellen, the audio just vanishes.

So now I've posted a fully corrected version. AND, a little later today, the Wynn Part I episode will go up. HOWEVER, if you just can't wait, you can click here to hear it or right-click here to download it to your computer.

Sorry for the confusion. I'm a boob.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Venetian + Palazzo + Sands Expo = ...

MEGACENTER. No, really. That's what they're about to start calling the entire 19-million-square-foot complex. So writes Tamara Audi in a Wall Street Journal piece today. MEGACENTER is to be used in all-caps, according to the story.

Good piece in general about the convention-space boom in Vegas. Wish I had thought of that one.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Breaking: Palazzo's Soft Opening Date Shifts to 12/28

Las Vegas Sands Inc has pushed back the soft opening of the $1.6 billion Palazzo to at least Dec. 28. I had heard rumblings today but then confirmed it on the Palazzo's website. No reservations are being taken for dates prior to 12/28. I understand about two-thirds of the rooms will be open, the casino and a couple of restaurants. But the grand opening will Jan. 18, when Barney's and all the rest of the place will be unveiled.

Update (9:35 a.m. PT): Just reconfirmed this by calling reservations. The lady told me up front that the date was now Dec. 28. When I said I had heard it was Dec. 20, she said they gave the reservationists the updated information last week.