Saturday, March 27, 2010

Searchlight Or Bust, The Wrap

I'm not even sure what this lady is supposed to be, to be honest, except maybe ridiculous?

Well, I had quite a lot of snarky fun on Twitter about my Saturday adventure heading 50 miles south to Searchlight, Nev., to cover the big Tea Party put on on in/near Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's hometown. I netted 40+ new followers thanks to Eclectablog's citation on DailyKos.

For more straight-up coverage, check out the Las Vegas Sun and Review-Journal, that of my pal Kathleen Hennessey now of the L.A. Times. Also full of snark and insight was, as always, Jon Ralston. Who to ignore? CNN, whose anchor Fredericka Whitfield said "at least dozens" were there when any sane person could see there were thousands. And here's my entry for AOLNews.Com. The cops estimate 8,000 were there, by the way.

Anyhow, I had decided, rather than drive my piece-o-crap down there, to pay $20 for a seat on one of the charter buses being arranged by some folks out of California. I wrote to the e-mail that was heavily promoted in the Review-Journal and that massively popular (?) Nevada News Bureau site. I also got there early, figuring there'd be a big hoard. Turned out, there was, uh, one bus. And I was one of 13 people on a 75-seat bus. Apparently, everyone else decided to drive themselves.

That said, I did enjoy the ride, if only because I got to Tweet about the huge guy who ate a box of a dozen doughnuts by himself in about 15 minutes of riding and how useful socialized medicine will one day be for his diabetic ass. Here's the box, you disbelievers:

Doughnut Fatty was also reading "The 5,000 Year Leap," some 1981 book on protecting constitutional freedom that's No. 115 right now because Glenn Beck's been shilling it on Fox.

One stunner was that the bus driver declared his support for Harry Reid. He reasoned that a small state like Nevada needs his seniority and, when challenged about what Reid had done for the state from riders, he went into a whole thing about how he saved the state from Yucca Mountain. The riders were stumped but respectful. I was in awe of the driver's guts.

Once we arrived, though, there would be no dissenting opinions. Just a lot of signs and speeches saying essentially the same things:

Two thoughts here. (a) Texas, you're welcome to go at any time, and (b) Isn't it neat that Puffy's an animal lover?

Speaking of license plates, just wondering if I'm missing something. I hitched a ride home from Searchlight with freelance photog Isaac Brekken so I could get back faster and write, and we saw this and had no idea what it was supposed to mean. Anyone?

Lots of folks may mock these people -- including me, because it's in my nature -- but the event went off without any violent or racist incidents. My Tweets were merciless, but my report for AOLNews.Com, I hope, provided a fair representation of what happened: People got together to express their political views.

OK, with a healthy dose of media-bashing. Which is funny because, like other irrational hatreds, these people seemed to really like the reporter they got to speak to:

When I introduced myself to one sweet lady for an interview and told her I was with AOL News, she lit up: "Oh, I love your paper!" How, uh, nice!

Could this be why there was no violence?

But, seriously, how can people who do this...

...expect not to be teased? I mean, they took the song "New York, New York" and reworked the lyrics so that it went "These O-bah-mah bloooze, are melting away...". And they had KICKLINES, see?

There was a fleet of planes skywriting messages above and this was utterly distracting. GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval, who is actually the odds-on favorite to win at the moment, lost his speaking time to a crowd so transfixed by this...

...that they cheered to the heavens and chanted "Vote Reid Out" so loudly that all Sandy could do was pretend he was leading the chant.

Of course, nobody was distracted when Palin appeared:

She made the requisite jabs at Obama for using the TelePrompTer so much, then read her speech off a page as if that's actually different. She insisted that when she tells the crowd, "Don't retreat, reload!" that she's not making a gun reference. And she gave voice to the principles of her audience in support of lower taxes and smaller government and out-of-control health insurance company. Still, she was a vastly improved presenter than she was when I covered in the fall of 2008. And she even gets to keep the clothes now!

What was sort of amazing was that it wasn't Palin or Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons or even Vegas radio wackadoodle Heidi Harris who came across as nuts, it was self-described "middle-class media mogul" Andrew Breitbart. The guy was not only completely off the wall but totally into himself, blathering on about how he's offering $100,000 to the United Negro College Fund if the black House members who were called "nigger" last weekend could prove it. Breitbart, right, went on about how the Democrats were the real racists and that this is why he left the party in 1996 which is so strange because I don't recall any big racial scandals in 1996 surrounding the Democrats, do you?

And finally, one of the funnest parts to me was that several speakers insisted the racial taunts against the House members never happened but not a single one repudiated the homophobic slurs visited upon U.S. Rep. Barney Frank. That, evidently, is just fine.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pictorial: Inside Vegas' Gehry

I took a tour of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health the other day in advance of a feature about the project. The media has largely ignored the actual science and medicine that the project represents, obsessing instead over the seemingly blasphemous notion that Frank Gehry designed something for Vegas. My piece, I'm hoping, will put those parts into balance.

But, since this is a blog and so many of you are design-obsessed, I thought I'd share a little. Above is the not-yet-done events room under the swoopy Gehry dome that looks like this from the outside:

The project is just west of downtown, across from the World Market Center and up the street from the outlet mall. Even as we walked around it, there were people on traffic islands taking photos. Quite a draw.

The events center will be home to symposiums, meetings, concerts, fundraisers, that sort of thing. They'll rent it out -- it's got a full kitchen and, of course, the liquor support of founder Larry Ruvo's Southern Wine & Spirits -- to help fund the research and patient care operation.

Lest you're worried that addled brain-disease patients will be confused by such a busy design -- and I've had one editor so far who was convinced that was an issue -- here's what the place looks like from the parking lot.

See? It's just a four-story building. Patients come in, they're greeted by volunteers who take them to the second floor where they are taken directly into patient suites. They've cut out the waiting room because they don't want early-stage Alzheimer's patients to be freaked out and horrified by the often unruly behavior and physique of late-stage patients. Kinda brilliant, really.

Anyhow, the inside of the building is also Gehry's design. I thought these lamp fixtures, for instance, fit really well into the overall inside-the-head concept going on around here.

I'll be working on this one next week. Will post when it's published. I believe the events center will be opened in a month or two.

Friday Is For Funnies

That's Jack, making his mark on a sensational landscape shot from a cliff in Jerome, Ariz., when I was on an early-February reporting trip to Prescott. He's so proud!

As you can see, I've been saving up my little amusements. This one yesterday morning, a bizarre Tweet from @LasVegasLisa of KTNV, the ABC affiliate here, is what KVBC Executive Producer Miles Smith, aka my spouse, would call a Tease Gone Bad:

I didn't watch but I'm hoping against hope that they did NOT give voice on the air to the wackadoodles who think death threats are peachy keen. Lisa Tweeted back at me a few times, trying to encourage me to come to the KTNV Facebook page where, I guess, a serious, important debate was raging over whether destructive illegal activity is an appropriate means of expressing political anger. This is how the mainstream media thinks it can remain relevant these days. Yo, Lisa, how about next week we do this: "Are pedophile priests really bad for your kids? Hash it out on our Facebook page!" Hey, everyone's opinion deserves respect, right?

This may be an awkward segue from wackadoodles -- or not, depending on your point of view -- but I'm off to Searchlight, Nev., tomorrow to cover the big Tea Party in Harry Reid's hometown. Searchlight is really little. There's generally nothing to do there except stop at the Nugget for a cheap cup of Joe. So it struck me as funny when TripAdvisor.Com asks here...

..."Planning a trip to Searchlight?" That can't be an oft-clicked-thru pop-up, huh?

Lately I've been getting Friend requests on Facebook from other Steve Friesses. You see, we were all told as we were growing up that Friess is a rare name. It made up for the annoying difficulties we Friesses have had spelling, especially for those of us who have troubles with S's. This is generally how the valet dudes end up getting it:

Anyhow, I got over my impression that I was rare, at least name-wise, a while ago when, uh, I first used an Internet search engine. There's a Friess Lake in Wisconsin, a Friessland in Belgium and a prominent investment banker and GOP activist, Foster Friess, who has a wife Lynn (I have a sister Lynn) and a son, Steve. I've even been in touch on and off with a Steve Friess who once asked if he could use something I wrote for USA Today as his own for some academic purpose. No, really.

But apparently other Steve Friesses are just getting hip to our growing ranks. And this, anyhow, this is a long way around saying that THIS... not me. But I'm almost "friends" with him, if that counts for anything.

One reason I am NOT that Steve Friess is because of this:

Yum on Twitpic

Covering the Fun Expo in Vegas this month -- which, in fact, was an expo overflowing of fun -- it was hard to resist tasting some free cotton candy, even at 9 a.m. It came from the latest in vending, the automatic fairy floss (look it up, it's the Australian term) machine.

The latest thing... Automated cotton candy machines!!! on Twitpic

Typically, you pay $2 for your treat. I ran into a podcast listener from Virginia who recognized me and walked me around a bit, and he said it actually costs the vendor about 8 cents for the stick and 2 cents for the sugar. Or maybe it was the reverse. I Tweeted it at the time, but I just hate trying to find old Tweets, don't you? The machine was $5,000, I think. I'm told there's one at New York-New York, fyi.

Speaking of friends, how many of you...

...fell for this?

And, while we're on the topic of Wynn, I wandered while in L.A. earlier this month into a fancy Bel Air neighborhood while trying to find the UCLA theater where Erich Bergen is in "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum." I came across this...

So which  came first, the Vegas one or this Bel Air usage? on Twitpic

...and wondered if it predated the hotel-casino of the same name. Probably, right?

Someone in Vegas ought to, just for civic pride's sake, get the people of Yermo, Calif., to...

Whatever, yermo: on Twitpic

...tear this insult down.

Does anyone have a freaking clue what any of this gobbledegook has to do with any of the rest of this gobbledegook?

And finally, we're back to the dogs. They went in for their dental visit which, in case you're not a dog owner, is a thing where they knock out your animals, clean up their teeth and, if necessary, remove some. Jack had four teeth removed, Black had one. They came home...

...totally stoned. And before you get on me about giving them too much fairy floss, I'll have you know I would never do that. It's much too delicious to waste on them.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Would Dan Savage Say?

When I'm not being regaled by them as the greatest blogger in the history of Las Vegas blogging, I still religiously pick up Las Vegas CityLife because in the back, buried with all the naughty adverts, is the sex advice column of Dan Savage. It's always brutally obscene, often weird and usually bitingly funny. I've also known Dan, a frequent TV talking head on gay stuff and editor of Seattle's alt-weekly, The Stranger, for a long time through the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

Anyhow, there's this sleepy little column in the Review-Journal written by Steven Kalas who is a local "behavioral health consultant." He takes on people's problems and answers them, usually, in the dullest way imaginable. I rarely read it, although his piece last week ago defining porn and declaring it "a waste of a man's time" and "ridiculous" was pretty amusing.

But this week, the headline was: "Too early to worry about son's sexuality at age 12." And here's the problem Mr. Kalas considered:

My husband recently ran across some Web sites our 12-year-old son had been viewing. There were YouTube videos of Zac Efron in (the) shower, boys romping on (the) bed in underwear, cartoon characters with big pecs. While he wasn't actually viewing nudity, he was looking up all these male sites.

My question is, does this mean our son is gay? He does not have characteristics of being gay. I've always been worried since both our boys were little because their father's brother is gay.

My husband (the boy's father) is the complete opposite of his gay brother. He has manly traits, but his brother is very feminine. I don't see the gay brother's traits in my 12-year-old. But after seeing that he's been viewing these sites, I'm very concerned.

Do you feel like it would do damage to our son if my husband spoke to him about if he was gay or not? My husband said he doesn't want him to feel like his brother did (where he didn't feel accepted) and wanted to let our son know that we accepted him. I feel like this could really hurt my son's feelings if it's just maybe a case of curiosity. -- C.M., Austin, Texas

Kalas' long-winded answer is: No, it doesn't mean you're kid's gay and no, you shouldn't scare the shit out of your kid by talking to him about your findings. The columnist properly confronts the mom on her implicit homophobia but doesn't disabuse her of the notion that being gay is a sickness or "an inherent wickedness," both of which he suggests could be her motive. He does, in fact, suggests that a "good" reason for her to hope her kid's not queer is that it will deprive her of grandchildren.

I kept wondering how Savage, whose best-selling book "The Kid" is all about him becoming a dad, might react because this advice is really pretty clueless.

What should have Kalas said to this mother?

How about: Any 12-year-old boy who is consistently checking out images of Zac Efron in the shower and "all these male sites" wants dick. Period. It's as natural to him as it is for the many 12-year-old girls who view the same material. Kalas backs up his assertion that 12-year-olds really don't have a clue what they are or want with the non sequitur that a 12-year-old Kalas thought he'd marry some girl he crushed on back then. For this to be an apt analogy, though, Kalas would now be happily depriving his parents of grandbabies (his quaint word) by sharing his life with a dude. Otherwise, he thought he was straight back then and, lo and behold, he still is.

Should the parents talk to the kid about what he's looking at online? Uh, yeah. And if they do it in the right tone, the kid won't be freaked out any more than if he were a straight kid looking at pictures of big jugs. Then the kid will know that if someday he decides he wants to take a boy to the prom, you won't throw his ass out on the street like poor Derrick Martin in Bleckley County, Ga.

Oh, and since I know you're curious, here's Zac Efron in the shower. Not my taste, but I'm also not 12 anymore.

And just to be fair to all my straight male readers, I'd say the same thing if the question was a 12-year-old girl who was looking at this:

You're welcome. Especially you, Mr. Kalas. Aren't yummy pictures of sexy people just ridiculous?

The Gayest Neighborhood in Vegas?!?

Sometimes columnists, including me, insert themselves into their stories because we can be vain or lazy. This week, there was no other way. I've wanted to do something on Nevada's fake-gay-marriage thing for a while and thought maybe finding a crusty old couple in some unlikely corner of the state would make a fun piece. But it was hard to ignore that gift from the Columnist Gods, the fact that somehow I happened to live in the Fake Gay Married Mecca of Nevada and I'm Fake Gay Married. So here goes. Enjoy. -sf

Feeling good in the gayborhood
Apparently 89121 is the gayest ZIP in the state

I have noticed that my local Albertson's tends to display the Froot Loops just a little more prominently than other stores in town. I’ve also peeked into my neighbors’ iTunes lists and noticed that Broadway show tunes are disproportionately popular around here, but I try not to read too much into this sort of thing. And, yes, even though Rainbow Boulevard is way across town, those colorful arcs are undeniably brighter in the skies over my house after a good rain.

But, still. I live in the gayest ZIP code in the Silver State? Really?

It sure seems that way. It’s been six months since Nevada began allowing gays to fake-marry, creating a registry that confers to same-sex couples just about all of the statewide benefits of being hitched without calling it that, because the semantics-obsessed voters decided early last decade to constitutionally bar marriage equality. I call it “fake-married,” because we’re not allowed to call it married, and it means nothing to the government, where all the real goodies lie for married couples—in the tax code, anyway.

As of last week, 1,717 couples had declared they had “chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring” and reside together “on at least a part-time basis,” as the form reads. Nearly 300 couples a month plunk down either $50 for a boring black-and-white certificate or—as this is the state of the upsell—$65 for a colorful “ceremonial” one that looks like the sort of thing a kindergarten teacher prints out for her prized students. (Just three partnerships have been dissolved, by the way.)

Back in November, when 1,150 couples had taken this plunge, writer Alex Richards did a fun by-the-numbers box for the Las Vegas Sun, indicating that the most popular ZIP code in Nevada for gay fake-marrieds—with 50 couples registered—was 89121.

That is to say, mine.

Last week, I checked again, by obtaining the database of all the couples and their ZIP codes from the secretary of state. There were now 61 couples registered in my ZIP, including me and my partner, Miles. We’re still No. 1, with 3.5 percent of the state’s registered couples.

Huh. Who knew?

Read the REST at LasVegasWeekly.Com

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Exclusive First Look: Wynn Philly


Up until just now, this post included an image of a rendering of Wynn Resorts' planned, presently unnamed $250 million Philadelphia casino. This is what the Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board, sight unseen, predicted would be a "down-market," "low-budget" grind joint so "cheesy" that "it's not even clear that Wynn will put his full name on the joint."

Where'd it go? Well, funny thing, that. I shot that photo right in front of Steve Wynn, who laid out many renderings of the planned casino and specifically told me that the one that mattered was this one. He watched me shoot the photo. But apparently he did not realize that I planned to publish it and has now asked me to remove it. Evidently, there has been a great deal of consternation caused with the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission over the fact that I got this up before they got to see it.

Because Mr. Wynn asked me to and acknowledged to me a "gross misunderstanding," I've granted his request. Lord knows that, the image having been up for five days, others have shot screen shots of it and Google has cached it. So if you're really motivated, it's still out there somewhere.

Since I've removed the image, let me at least describe it. It showed a low-slung, sprawling building with the Wynn logo on a front lawn beyond a porte cochere. That's important because the Philly Inq claimed Wynn would build something he'd be so embarrassed by he wouldn't even put his name on it.

The architecture and exterior design is essentially a reiteration of the podium-level look of his latest luxury resort, Encore Macau, which opens in April.

Pay attention in this image -- used with permission from MacauTripping.Com and furnished by "Ace Macau" -- to the brown conic eaves to the right of the porte-cochere. The Philly design is identical. And Encore Macau, Wynn insisted, is "the most beautiful building we've ever done." (I hope someone's covering the ears of Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas so their feelings aren't hurt.) More terrific pix from Ace Macau are on MacauTripping.Com.

As I Tweeted, I spent some time with The Steve that day. We actually planned to continue the proper interview component soon because we really only covered art, family and politics today before he had another appointment. And don't worry, podcast listeners, Mr. Wynn clearly consented to the use of these discussions for the show as well as for my other work. In fact, he even told me at one point, "I know you're a Twitterer," which means that the official Wynn Twitterer, Ms. Jade Bailey-Assam, has made tremendous strides in the New Media Education of Mr. Wynn.

Wynn was in a terrific mood, having just been through a lengthy and miserable series of back and knee surgeries that he believes are now behind him. I arrived at his office, where I expected our interview to take place, but I then was driven in a $350,000 Maybach to the villa where he and his girlfriend, Andrea Hissom, live. (She was away.) This meant driving out the South entrance, onto the Strip and then behind the resort to a driveway by the Wynn golf course. Yes, walking would have been easier but certainly less fun.

While I was waiting before I took this little ride, I took note of what lies on the coffee table of his corporate headquarters waiting area: the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Review-Journal, Slots Today, a big photo book on Los Angeles, a book of Pulitzer-winning photos and a book of pictures of Chinese people on bicycles! There are always little yummies there, too:

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

There's a book curio cabinet, too, but the image I Tweeted was blurry and worthless. It's populated by lots of tomes on China and art. This, below, is the only image of Wynn in the waiting area, taken in 2008 by a rather famous photographer whose name I took note of but simply can't recall now. Love the antique slot machine, too.

The only interior image of Wynn's villa I shot was this one (below) because he told me I could take it of the art, the famously damaged-and-fixed "Le Reve" by Picasso and a second Picasso to its right.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Last time I was in Wynn's office, back in late 2008, Le Reve was displayed prominently. But now there's something else there. This:

That is a Rembrandt self-portrait that, until this post, Steve Wynn had never publicly acknowledged owning. [See his non-denial denial to the New York Times.] He bought it for $33.2 million last year and attempted to keep it a secret. He and I had a lengthy discussion of art and his collection which will be part of what airs on "The Strip" in about a week.

Wynn specifically asked his assistant to take me back -- via Maybach - to his office so I could see it. I was equally intrigued by this, displayed below the Rembrandt:

That's a first-edition collection of Carl Sandburg's four-volume "Abraham Lincoln: The War Years." What intrigued me about this is that I'd never known Wynn to be a collector or aficionado of rare books before and I wonder if it's a new interest. I found this link, which indicates it's worth $1,250. My instinct is that it was a gift; I'll be asking tomorrow.

One more tidbit from the villa was that -- check it out -- he has a dog run:

I suppose it makes a lot of sense as he has those two highly trained German Shepherds that both protect him and keep him company. His older one, Paolo, died last year, so he's been replaced.

Want to know how good a mood Wynn was in today? We returned from the Country Club Restaurant where we had lunch and he asked if I wanted, uh, a lollipop. Amusingly, with my hearing disability, I thought he was asking his housekeeper where he had put his "Steve's Lollipops." That cracked me up, that he refers to his candy in the third person. In actuality, he had a jar of...

...See's lollipops. I told him what I had misheard and he found that amusing. "No, no, they're not my lollipops," he said. "They're Warren Buffett's."

This remark completely confounded me until just now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mrs. Wynn Politely Disses CityCenter

This is Elaine Wynn's NCAA bracket, as I flashed to the Web audience on Saturday during our live recording of "The Strip" from a ballroom of Wynn Las Vegas during the NCAA March Madness party. It's probably not readable even if you click on it to make it larger and she didn't go past the Sweet 16, but I still thought it was awesome that she had one. I sure don't.

Mrs. Wynn, it is fair to say, is a woman of many surprises. And nothing stunned the audience on Saturday more than her choice to answer our question about what she thinks of CityCenter and Aria. Here's what she said:

"I have a mixed reaction, a mixed reaction. I respect the work that’s done, I respect their courage. I’m not sure if it’s going to be as commercially appealing as they had hoped because the people that come to Las Vegas may not, on the whole, be cutting edge modernists. And it will definitely appeal to a certain segment of our commercial population but it’s pretty sophisticated. ... The good news is that any time somebody spends that kind of money, it makes your organization sharper. It brings out the competitive instincts and you re-examine everything that you are doing to say, 'Are we doing it as smartly as we can? Have we been as forward-thinking as we should be? Do we still like our décor?' What happens is really healthy."

Translation: Elaine Wynn believes CityCenter is too smart for most Vegas-goers. Some in the chat room viewed this as a slam on Vegas-goers, but it's not like the Wynns haven't challenged travelers to aspire for more and better here. As we learned from Roger Thomas last week, there's a whole lot of very sophisticated design at Wynn and Encore. The difference is that it's there for those who want it but the place is utilitarian even for those who don't notice or care. It's about knowing the market and the mindset of the visitors. MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren, who was unaware even when Encore or Palazzo opened and admittedly does not pay attention to what his competitors do, puts himself at a disadvantage in that respect.

On a sunnier note, Vegas PR guru Dave Kirvin had tipped me off last week that Elaine Wynn is a close friend of Coach Mike Krzyzewski, aka "Coach K" of Duke. So Miles and I asked how that came about and that yielded this anecdote:

"When UNLV beat [Duke] in the worst drubbing of any national championship tournament history [in 1990,] I was in Denver and I went back to the room and I watched the press conference and [Coach K] was so gracious in the way he handled the defeat and complimentary to UNLV that I wrote him a letter and I said, 'You made winning so much sweeter by being such a gentleman. I don’t know if you ever come to Las Vegas but if you do, we’d be more than happy to have you stay with us. And besides from now on whenever UNLV is not playing, Duke will be my favorite team.' I don’t hear from Mike at all. The next year, Duke and UNLV met again in the quarterfinal game [and Duke killed UNLV.] I wrote Mike again and said, 'Well, congratulations, it was your turn.’ And I reiterated the offer. Well, sure enough we get a call saying Coach K would like to come to Las Vegas. So I put him in a villa at the Mirage. I'd never spoken to him. He checks in, calls the office and says, ‘You have no idea what a hero I am to my wife.’ We met then and we just became very fast, close friends."

Yep, that'll do it. Mrs. Wynn also blasted the talk of expanding the NCAA tournament from 65 to 96 teams, calling that idea "silly" and "mercenary" and noting that "the wonderful thing about this tournament is that it's long enough to be exciting but it's condensed enough to get passionate."

If you just want to watch just our 35-minute conversation with Elaine, click on this image and it will play for you.

There's more in there, including her defense of Harry Reid, her continued high hopes for President Barack Obama and her clear pining for Shadow Creek as she describes the down sides to living at the Wynn.

The Show is UP: Elaine Wynn

Excerpts of newsy bits from Mrs. Wynn are in the next blog post, but here's the cleaned-up, audio version of the whole show and an interview-only video edition of us with Elaine Wynn. We recorded this all in the Latour Ballroom at Wynn Las Vegas during the property's NCAA March Madness party. Click on the date below to make it play or right-click to save it and listen at your leisure. You can subscribe, too, (it's free!) in iTunes or in Zune.

3/22: The (March) Madness of Queen Elaine
SPECIAL: Video of the Elaine Wynn conversation
RAW VIDEO: See the unedited show as it was webstreamed

Las Vegas is awash in March Madness, although for legal reasons nobody around here calls it that. So we’re webcasting live from the March – uh – Lunacy party in a ballroom at the Wynn in honor of the NCAA basketball tournament that even has the President of the United States going a bit bracket-crazy. And because we’re at the Wynn, who better to chat with than the property’s first lady, Elaine Wynn? Wynn, now divorced from Steve Wynn but as intimately involved in the details of the company as ever, joins us later this hour to talk about her obsession with college hoops as well as her views on Aria, Obama and Harry Reid. But first, Wynn sports book director Johnny Avello stops by to talk about how the tournament became one of the biggest events in sports betting and how he became known for creating wacky lines for everything from Dancing With The Stars to the Westminster Dog Show.

In Banter: VegasHappensHere.Com wins something, Jason Alexander's a jerk, pool season's here, Sheldon hearts Florida and a bunch of restaurant closures.

Links to stuff discussed:

Watch the whole unedited 90-minute video of this LIVE show from Wynn Las Vegas’ NCAA Tournament party
See the video episode that includes the Elaine Wynn conversation
Link to the CityLife write-up on VegasHappensHere.Com
did a summary of our Cirque-related shows
Erich Bergen’s rave reviews at UCLA for “A Funny Thing Happens on the Way To The Forum”
The VegasHappensHere.Com post on the Jason Alexander confrontation
Proof that Jason Alexander does do interviews with blogs
The Caesars Gardens of the Gods pools are open
The Naples Daily News report on the Las Vegas Sands hopes to build in Florida
New Jersey regulators say Stanley Ho’s a mobster and the R-J's publisher links this to (?) Harry Reid
Restaurant Charlie is closing, Company is closing and Rumjungle’s in bankruptcy
Conan is playing the Palms and Carole King and James Taylor will be at MGM
Johnny Avello’s appearance on The Petcast talking about odds for Westminster Dog Show
Unusual Avello odds from the Wynn website
A report on the second-round upset of Kansas, the team that Avello and Elaine Wynn both said were the favorites.
A screen shot of Elaine Wynn’s bracket
Jade Bailey-Assam, the Wynn New Media guru who arranged our live event
Steve’s op-ed defending Vegas gambling for the Philadelphia Inquirer
Communities in Schools, of which Mrs. Wynn is the chairwoman