Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is it Criss Angel Luxor, too?

Not long ago, that beloved Strip headliner Criss Angel Tweeted this:

I have no idea what it means to relocate six choppers. But what perked my ears up was "the Criss Angel Liquidity Bar." Did they rename this belly-up bar? So far as I can tell from the website, no. I also called the number but nobody answered the bar's phone. When I called the hotel operator, it went like this:

Me: Hi, I have a question. Did they rename Liquidity for Criss Angel?

Lady: Did they what?

Me: Rename the bar as Criss Angel Liquidity Bar?

Lady: Well, I know we have the Criss Angel Believe show.

Me: Yeah, I know that. But what about the bar?

Lady: I can transfer you there, but they didn't tell us anything about that. Do you want to be transferred?

Me: They don't answer, but sure. Let's see what happens. Thanks.

Lady: Have a good evening.

That was followed by endless ringing until I hung up.

The funny thing is, I've been following Criss Angel's Tweeting carefully lately because he's doing something kind of interesting. He's got some sort of a treasure hunt for tickets going on. Apparently they're hiding some tickets in the retail shop for his show, Criss Angel Believe. He's revealing clues via Twitter. Not real sure how this works exactly -- is he asking the Loyals to come ransack the store or something? -- but it's intriguing nonetheless.

Anyhow, waiting on someone at MGM Mirage to let me know if they've rebranded the bar in his honor. Cuz, you know, the Criss Angel brand has done such wonders for Cirque du Soleil and all as you can see.

[UPDATE: MGM Mirage F&B publicity queen Andrea Brown wrote back to say: "They are NOT changing the name of Liquidity, but Criss will be making appearances every Friday and Saturday night beginning Friday, Aug. 7 at Liquidity." Oh, joy. How thrilling.]

This week's LVW col: When The Fun Stops

Here's this week's LVW col. Yes, it's a downer. Sorry. Hopefully it's a thoughtful downer, though. -sf

When The Fun Stops
Somewhere along the way, all the reasons to love living in Sin City went bye-bye

For a brief bit of time earlier this month, I was reminded of how it used to be around here. Confident business leaders and politicians grazed on a sumptuous breakfast buffet at the Four Seasons, exchanging business cards and chatting about new deals they expected to come through. Then they settled down at tableclothed tables set with fancy china and watched as their leader, Nevada Development Authority CEO Somer Hollingsworth, talked up the land of opportunity that Las Vegas represents.

Hollingsworth, a man never accused of understatement, exhibited some brazen hubris in his talk, titled, “California Has Lost Its Mind and Las Vegas Is Providing Psychoanalysis,” running through the litany of challenges facing our neighbor to the west. He even—and I’m not kidding—donned a tinfoil hat as he mercilessly mocked California policymakers for their high taxes and generous state-sponsored services before explaining why the Golden State’s budget misery would lead to robust job growth here.

As weird as it was to see a grown man wearing a tinfoil hat, and as unseemly as it felt to hear people cackle at the prospect of exploiting someone else’s misery, it also was nice to hear some roundabout good news about the Las Vegas economy for a change.

Except dwelling in an alternative universe where the eastbound stampede of Californians was in effect didn’t last long. The next day we learned that Nevada, already the nation’s foreclosures champ, had hit an all-time record for unemployment, 12.3 percent. The nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation released a study shortly thereafter that indicated that the Silver State’s economy is “the most distressed” in the United States. And CNBC did an analysis that showed that Nevada can expect the nation’s largest budget gap in 2010 by percentage of the general fund. Presumably, Mr. Hollingsworth, Kaiser and CNBC included California in their research.

By the weekend, I was exhausted from not just another week of lousy economic data but also from working my ass off to make mortgage payments on property unlikely for years to be worth even close to what we paid. When a journalist friend in New York who used to cover Vegas called to chitchat, he could hear my weariness.

“It’s just no fun anymore,” I said.

“What isn’t?”

“Vegas,” I said. “Vegas isn’t fun anymore.”

It was an epiphany of sorts. Oh, sure, Vegas is still a blast for tourists. In fact, it’s never been a bigger one. The resorts are so desperate, they’re giving away rooms, meals, flights, show tickets, whatever.

So who’s the sucker now? Wasn’t that sort of the premise of our economy, that we build all these fantastical, lovely experiences to make up for the fact that we’re relieving the masses of their cash at the tables or machines while convincing them that it’s fun? I’ve never quite believed that; I don’t think there’s anything more insidious about spending money playing games of chance than spending it on an outing at a professional sports game. But the premise sure wasn’t that this is where the world comes to rip us off.

Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Hey... I decided we should do SOMETHING. So we're playing the Bob Saget interview tonight starting at 7. I'll be in the chat room from home, too. The Saget interview was recorded in late May but then he canceled/postponed his concerts in Vegas and I never posted it. So we'll play that from 7-7:30ish. Join us! I'll also edit it -- I've not listened to it since we recorded it, actually -- and post it as this week's episode.

See ya there? Join us at LVRocks.Com.

No LIVE Show Tonight Due To Jackson Frenzy

Sorry, boys and girls, but we gotta cancel the live show of "The Strip" tonight because I gotta make a living. And today, that means standing on a sidewalk baking in the heat staring at this:

Yep, that's all I've been staring at for the past several hours. Fun, huh? Y'see, Michael Jackson's personal doctor, Conrad Murray, is being probed in connection with Jackson's drug-related death. Dr. Murray is from Vegas. Has a fancy house and a medical practice. And today, the DEA, LAPD, LVMPD and God knows who else raided both places.

So I got called into action. Here's the top-of-Google-News glory-screen-shot:

I did have a terrific interview with Smokey Robinson today and I don't want to give him or Human Nature short shrift by rushing to write a show script. Besides, the raid at the medical office is actually still ongoing and I need to go back out into the heat shortly.

Lest anyone imagines such work is glamorous (does anyone?!?), take a look at how the press corps is sweltering:

I like this guy in orange in the "Thriller" jersey:

I wouldn't want to have to touch this:

Happily, I have some connections. The fine folks at Miles' TV station, KVBC, let me chill inside their news van. It's unclear how much better that really was, though. Take a look at the thermometer:

the time and date are wrong, but the 108.8 degree F temp is more or less correct. As I type, it's 111 out. It wasn't real clear to us if that was the temp inside or outside of the van.

The Strip is LIVE tonight w/Smokey Robinson!

What's Smokey Robinson, the legend of Motown, doing as the chief backer of a Vegas production featuring a white former boy band from Australia? Robinson explains that and talks about all things Smokey on this week's show. Also, Andrew Tierney of that very band, Human Nature, talks about the group's transition from top-of-the-heap in Oz to newbies in Vegas.

Plus, news from Vegas, a new trivia question, the poll, listener feedback and, as always, the Top Secret Tourist Tip of the Week.

Join us tonight at 7-8 p.m. for the live show and chat at LVRocks.Com. Hopefully the chat room will be working this go-around! Or just wait for the podcast version and subscribe (it's free!) via this iTunes link or via this Zune link. Your call.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy Monday

I thought that was fun. Tee hee.

Also, if you've never heard of Uncle Jay Explains before, it's a perfect Monday morning lift. He does these 3-minute comic news summaries that are always, always, always clever. Here's this week's:

You can get "Uncle Jay Explains" via iTunes, but Jay's site doesn't provide a direct iTunes link to do so. So go here and follow his instructions for how to subscribe.

Meanwhile, my day includes a just-concluded interview with one of the Human Nature guys for this week's show, preparing for a Smokey Robinson interview tomorrow for this week's show, some MJ benefit-related calls and meetings and an attempt to finish a long-delayed piece for USA Today.

Oh, and I also have to call the IRS. Looks like I'm audited. Eeek. Somehow I'm not freaking out. Yet.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

From the Files of It Had To Happen Eventually

The weekend papers contained three stories that were interesting, but not surprising to me. They just seemed preordained to occur one of these days.

1. Ex-dealer sues over exposure to smoke. Saturday's Howard Stutz piece in the Review-Journal about the former Caesars Palace blackjack dealer who is suing because after suffering precancerous stomach cells and told by her doctor she couldn't keep sucking in second-hand smoke on her job, the resort allegedly refused to reassign her to a nonsmoking gig. I hadn't even realized that Caesars had once had nonsmoking gaming areas until 2005, when Harrah's bought the joint and got rid of them. But this won't be the last lawsuit by a cancer-stricken dealer, to be sure. MGM Mirage's Alan Feldman told me last year he expects all Vegas casinos to be smoke-free within 10 years. Maybe they're hoping the courts force it so they don't have to take the blame from the public?

2. Liquor licenses for nightclubs denied. On the heels of the $500,000 fine to P-Ho for infractions at Prive nightclub, the club itself now lost its liquor license. Again, just the first of many chips to fall in a perilous business.

3. Player heaps scorn in Series' suits. Stutz's column today about the WSOP finalist who is attacking the tournament itself was a great read. Card Player magazine editor Jeff Shulman is presently in 4th, has already won $1.26 millon and now waits with the other eight for the Final Table in November. But while the WSOP chiefs wanted the November Nine to spend the time talking up the tournament and game, Shulman says he'll toss his bracelet in the trash or auction it for charity if he wins. That it would be the editor of a publication in direct competition with the magazine that is the official sponsor of the WSOP is a script we could never predict, but it seems now predictable that sooner or later someone would use their position to devour the hand that is feeding him. Shulman's complaint is the tournament is too big, to reliant on luck, too corporate. And yet he still plays in it, covers it in his publication, took his $1.26 million? Here is again one of the charms and problems of the WSOP -- anyone can win. And anyone who can win can say and do whatever they wish. A member of the Yankees who speaks out about what an asshole Steinbrenner or a Wimbledon player who tells a reporter the Queen of England is a hoary bitch can face consequences. But the World Series of Poker has no such control over its players and that's both a good and bad thing. What a total nightmare for them if Shulman wins, though.