Friday, August 20, 2010

The Strip & Petcast Are Live TODAY!


We're back in the studio on Saturday for The Strip and The Petcast from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Pacific at LVRocks.Com. And it should be fun because...

* On The Strip, we celebrate FIVE YEARS of podcasting with our traditional annual reel of bloopers in addition to all the fun stuff we do.

* On The Petcast, we have a normal interview-centric episode at 1:30 p.m. PT followed by a special one with some surprises for temporarily departing co-host Emily Richmond from 2-2:30 p.m.

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, August 19, 2010

This week's LVW Col: The Twitter Twins

Here's this week's column on Bill & Chris' excellent online adventures. Enjoy. -sf

Tweet Twins
How two brothers used social networking to open doors


Early this summer at a party for Mac King’s 10th anniversary as a Vegas headliner, I asked Las Vegas Sun columnist John Katsilometes where he was sitting. “Over there with the Twitter guys,” Kats answered.

Everybody uses Twitter these days, which is why I was intrigued that I knew, without hesitation, that Kats meant Bill Cody, aka @VegasBill, and Chris Rauschnot, aka @24k. In an Internet minute, the duo had gone from suspiciously regarded unknowns to publicist-adored media fixtures, invited or given access to all sorts of fancy events.

Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com

Photo Credit: Erik Kabik

Wynn Resorts Goes Vegan!

[UPDATE: I didn't notice this when I posted this item, but Al Mancini of CityLife has a terrific compilation of the vegan offerings at the various Wynn restaurants here.]

I don't usually republish press releases in their entirety, but this one is so intriguing -- and I don't mean that in the snarky way I usually take on such things -- that you need to see it all. It comes from Casey Leblang of BeccaPR:

Getting in touch with some news: Wynn Resorts debuts an all-new vegan culinary program, furthering their commitment to providing exceptional guest experiences.

Every fine dining and casual restaurant at Wynn and Encore now offers vegan menu items to cater to diners of various tastes and dietary preferences. As the first resort on The Strip with such extensive vegan offerings, Wynn remains on the cusp of a larger shift toward healthy eating.

Special vegan dishes include Fava Bean Puree with sautéed hon shimeji mushrooms, snap pea salad and aged balsamic vinegar at ALEX and the Market Chopped Salad with avocado, carrots, celery, pumpkin seeds, edamame and tarragon vinaigrette at Society Café Encore. Hearty entrée options—such as the Summer Vegetable Gratin at Botero, Risotto con Verdure di Stagione, risotto whipped with seasonal vegetables at BARTOLOTTA Ristorante di Mare, and Napoleon of Savory Tofu with ratatouille and fried eggplant at Tableau—entice vegan and non-vegans alike. The Country Club excites palettes with a vegan version of their popular Watermelon Gazpacho with avocado, jicama, tomato, cucumber, cilantro and yucca crisp, while STRATTA offers Whole Wheat Pasta Primavera, a vegan take on the Italian American staple. SW, Wynn’s signature steakhouse, serves crave-worthy vegan dishes such as Grilled Royal Trumpet Mushrooms with creamy polenta and shallot balsamic sauce.

Wazuzu’s Vegan Crunch Roll with crispy asparagus, avocado, cucumber and arare, Okada’s Vegan Cold Soba Noodle and Wing Lei’s Crispy Tofu with sugar pea, water chestnut, carrot and bean sprout feature flavorful Asian ingredients. Decadent desserts such as Blueberry Cobbler with toasted almond ice cream at Sinatra and Banana Crepes with coconut ice cream, avocado mousse at SWITCH provide a sweet close to any meal.

Earlier this week, a fellow writer asked if I knew anything about Steve Wynn going vegan. I knew that he ate very blandly, but otherwise it sounded like a rumor. Then food writer Max Jacobson broke news on Aug. 12 in Vegas Seven of Wynn's "recent commitment to veganism" and Alex Stratta's working on a vegan menu.

It turns out, this is much bigger than just Mr. Wynn or just Alex. I can't imagine these dishes will be huge sellers, but it's just another little distinction for the property.

Fascinating. I do wonder, though, if they'll bother with this in Macau. Doubtful.

Now, if only we could get the Asian Equation back on the Parasol Up/Down drink menu...

LA Weekly Cover On Mike Penner & Christine Daniels

Today, the L.A. Weekly published my 7,000-word cover story providing the fascinating, crushingly sad inside story of an L.A. Times sportswriter who transitioned to living as a woman, then reverted (outwardly) to male and, in November, killed himself. [When Mike Penner first announced his transition to Christine Daniels, the headline on this blog was: "Unbelievable courage."]

It's not part of my Vegas stuff, true. But it is one of the finer pieces of journalism, with the space and time truly needed, I've had a chance to do. So if you're interested, please read it.

That image above, by the way, was done for the cover by Matt Mahurin, one of the biggest names in both journalistic illustration and music videos. That's kind of awesome all by itself.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Daily Beast on Wynn's Art

Sometimes it takes a while to find the right outlet for a story. This is one of those times. Today, finally, I've written up the tale of Steve Wynn's describing his purchase of that $33 million Rembrandt in December for The Daily Beast. Podcast listeners would have heard it already, of course.

It was a very interesting exercise in fact-checking Wynn. Usually, he tells tales about people saying stuff and it sounds like a great yarn but there's no real way on the fly to ring up Steven Spielberg or Waylon Jennings to review some innocuous anecdote. The best you can say is that if they don't complain after the fact, it's probably true. But then again, it's Wynn and correcting the media record can be a challenge so I suspect some of his pals just let it go.

This time, though, I did call up everyone involved. And, while I didn't reach all of them, those I did speak to confirmed Wynn's version of events right down to verbatim quotes.

If you missed the full podcast, you can also now download just the 17-minute sequence from that March conversation.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More On The Angle Tapes

Today on AOL News, we broke the news of a surreptitious audio recording I was provided from a business networking breakfast featuring GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle. While the person who provided it thought the audio would embarrass the candidate, it actually struck me that she had found her footing in terms of responding to minefield-style questions.

Remember, she was appearing at a small, very Republican business group -- they cheer on the tape when she talks of her Sarah Palin endorsement -- and couldn't have anticipated being confronted on the topics she was quizzed on. Also, she had no idea she was being recorded.

You can read all about that over at AOL News and you can listen to the FULL tape, the gay-marriage part or the evolution segments by clicking on those links. Also, right-click to download same.

At first, I did think that this response regarding teaching evolution in schools was a little startling. Here's what she said:

Evolution is a theory just like creation is a theory. If we truly want educated children, we should give them opportunities to have every theory presented to them and then they can make up their minds which one makes the most sense. Because at the bottom of each theory, we can't prove it. We weren't there. We can't see and hear for ourselves and say absolutely this is how it happened. If we could, there would be no debate. When we're trying to raise logical thinkers, we have to give them every argument and allow for the debate.

Certainly, that's outrageous to anyone who cares about science or who doesn't view creation as a theory but a religious belief. And I did obtain this response from Jon Summers, Harry Reid's campaign spokesman. I didn't use it in the AOL piece because I went a different direction with it, but here's Summers' answer:

On creationism, Sen. Reid believes religion should be taught at home and at church.

Meanwhile, there was something else on the audio that was of local interest but not national relevance, which was Angle's claims regarding negotiations with Reid on possible debates. On the tape, she said:

He also would like to debate on NPR. We said, NPR has a very small listening audience. We want to debate on Fox. He said I want the local, Mitch Fox, to do the moderating of the debate. We said, no we’d like to have a national figure, someone like Rusty Humphries, to moderate the debate. He said he would like to have his talking points available to him, we said, no, we want a microphone, no podium and no notes. Let’s just talk.

Summers' response on behalf of Reid:

Her take on the debates is wrong and over-the-top. NPR never came up. Neither did this whole thing about talking points and podiums. We were invited to participate in two debates: Nevada Broadcasters, and Sunbelt/Las Vegas Sun, and we accepted them. We have accepted two debates with mainstream media, she has accepted none. Instead she's talking to people about how she wants a right-wing moderator on a right-wing outlet.

I went back to Jerry Stacy, Angle's press secretary, to respond to that. Here's what he wrote me back:

It’s possible that somebody from NPR approached the campaign. It could also be that she was referring to NBA (Nevada Broadcasting Association) because NBA discussed usage of notes and podiums. However the biggest issue we have is that the Reid campaign is refusing to do the NBA debate with Sharron until AFTER early voting begins, and we believe that would be a huge disservice to the voters because the voters deserve the right to know where both candidates stand on issues before they go to the polls. We have asked that both camps be allowed to sit at the same table and negotiate rather than letting Harry Reid dictate because the voting public deserves better.

And round and round it goes.