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Yes, It’s as Surreal as You Think

I live in Las Vegas. In the actual city, not just Clark County, where Las Vegas is located. It can get really confusing and weird sometimes. Not because Las Vegas isn’t weird – a stroll down the Strip any evening among the various Michael Jacksons, Elvises, almost naked cowboys, and porno nuns will prove that it is – but that it’s weird that I live in a city that is so iconic. So legendary.

The cast of Ocean's 11 - 1960 (file photo)
The cast of the original Ocean’s 11 – 1960 (file photo)

Las Vegas has been a staple of Hollywood for decades. Whether it’s Ocean’s 11 (the original and the George Clooney versions), Viva Las Vegas, The Godfather, Honeymoon in Vegas, Mars Attacks, and dozens more, movies have elevated Las Vegas’s brand for Americans and others everywhere.

To tell the truth, living in Las Vegas is no different than living in any other American city. There are homes – I live in an actual house, not in a casino, contrary to popular perception – stores, shopping malls, old neighborhoods, Starbucks, libraries, schools, restaurants, etc. Las Vegas can easily be considered a city just like any other city. We even have a Main Street. How much more Americana can you get?

But then there’s the skyline. It’s a little different than most.

If I stand in my front yard, I can see the Stratosphere, and it’s not very far away. I can also see Luxor’s famous light at nighttime. While I can’t (or won’t) walk to Downtown, it’s less than a seven-minute drive away. I saw the Downtown casinos and the Strip casinos every day while driving into The Day Job™. Sometimes when running errands or visiting friends, I pass Downtown or go through the Strip because it’s there. For the most part, I’ve gone “casino blind” because they’re so ubiquitous.

Sand colored building to the right is The Palazzo, across from the twin Wynn and Encore hotel casinos
Sand colored building to the right is The Palazzo, across from the twin Wynn and Encore hotel-casinos. Taken with my iPhone.

Every now and then I reflect on how otherworldly that is for those who don’t live here. On more than one occasion, I’ve taken a picture while at a stoplight and posted it or sent it to friends who are in, say, Philadelphia, my original hometown.  I’ve gotten rude comments in return, especially in the winter when they’re under a gazillion feet of snow and my photo is of the Bellagio fountains dancing to music. Such comments always make me chuckle.

They’re jealous in the wintertime and I’m good with that.

Welcome to Weird Vegas. TMI

The linked story of the Moulin Rouge and the early segregated history of Las Vegas is an amazing read. Grab some Chardonnay and popcorn and sit back and learn!

The current economy has provided opportunities for Downtown Vegas, once floundering, to bounce back. It will always pale in the shadow of the far more ostentatious Strip, but there are new and renovated events happening. And because of the recent insanity (read greed and stupidity) of the corporate suits who have invaded the leadership offices of many of The Strip casinos, people are flocking to Downtown Vegas and are discovering that while smaller, the casinos offer just as much quality and fun as the big boys.

Downtown Las Vegas, 1912
Downtown Las Vegas, 1912. Yes, this is actually Las Vegas. File photo from https://www.vintag.es/2013/12/downtown-las-vegas-1912.html

Since making Las Vegas my home many years ago, I have seen a lot of changes. While Casa Wineaux is located in “old” Las Vegas, it is still just a few miles west of truly historical West Las Vegas. One morning not too long ago, I was late for work because the Moulin Rouge, the first desegregated casino in Las Vegas, had caught fire again. The linked story to the Smithsonian of the Moulin Rouge and the early segregated history of Las Vegas is an amazing read. Grab some Chardonnay and popcorn and sit back and learn!

Vegas, Baby!

Sports

“Las Vegas can never have a professional sports team,” said the many pundits. “Too much of a chance for corruption and cheating.” (paraphrased)

And that was true for many years. While we were home to minor league baseball, we pretty much despaired at ever having a “real” team. And then the Universe intervened.

There were plans in the works for Las Vegas to be home to an NHL Hockey team.

Wait. What?

As outlandish as that sounded, it wouldn’t be a precedent. The Arizona Coyotes were already a successful team, so why not Vegas? It’s still the desert!

The Statue of Liberty dressed in a Golden Knights Jersey!

And then 1 October happened. The worst mass shooting in American History. And it happened in Las Vegas. And the members of the fledgling Vegas Golden Knights team stepped up and embraced a hurting, grieving community. And the community fiercely hugged them back. The inaugural game saw the Knights honor the first responders of that tragic night, and they’ve been held up and revered by the community ever since.

#VegasStrong.

I still can’t watch this video without tearing up!

And, in case you didn’t know, the Golden Knights team is owned by Bill Foley of Foley Estates Winery. See! There’s almost always wine involved somewhere!

Now we’re getting another professional team, the NFL Raiders.

This has been an ongoing angst of an event, with Oakland trying to sue Vegas, many locals quirking a skeptical eyebrow in their direction, and a singular lack of enthusiasm, especially when new taxes were incorporated to help cover the cost of the stadium. No Bueno. There’s a new stadium going up for the Raiders, and I may be wrong, but I’m feeling less than overwhelming excitement for the new football team.

That thought was displayed recently during a charity softball game of the Vegas Golden Knights vs. the Vegas (yes, that’s how it was promoted) Raiders. As an aside, the Raiders don’t start officially until 2020, but whatever. And if you click the link to the RJ story, you’ll hear the decided difference in fan enthusiasm between the Knights and Raiders.

During the Pledge, the Raiders were less than respectful, at least in the eyes of the (rabid) Knights fans. They got booed on more than one occasion during the course of the game. Oh dear. Not a way to endear yourselves to the very patriotic Vegas fans.

As an aside to the Raiders. If you want home support in the way that the Knights have home support, you better buck up and look at who your base is. Vegas cares about the games, not your politics. Just sayin’.

My Favorites

Of COURSE I have favorite casinos! I don’t think that they’re any secret.

On The Strip, my favorite casino is The Venetian. It’s high-end so it’s not the cheapest, but it’s great for walking, people watching, and my favorite hobby, eating! I can go there and enjoy several restaurants, knowing that I’ll have a wonderful, tasty meal. In addition, it’s attached to its sister property, The Palazzo, which also has a bunch of great restaurants. I haven’t stayed as a guest yet, but it’s on the short list for a possible staycation.

I’ve stayed at NYNY, although it’s been many years since I’ve been there. I’ve stayed at the Signature at MGM with The Wineaux Guy™ as well as Bally’s, and The Mirage (which was surprisingly mediocre). Although I haven’t stayed there as a guest, I have enjoyed visiting The M Resort in Henderson. Nice! Once again, another place I’m considering for a staycation. My friends Dick and Jarlene like staying at the Venetian from time to time.

Fremont Street
Getting ready to cross Fremont Street

I’ve stayed at the Golden Nugget in Downtown Vegas, and would easily stay there again. My room was luxurious and I truly enjoyed the stay. Unfortunately, the breakfast buffet left lots to be desired. Honestly, that’s the only Downtown Vegas hotel that I’ve stayed in, but Dick and Jarlene have told me that The D is a great place to stay.

One of the great things about staying Downtown is the Fremont Street Experience. It’s a must-see, no matter what! They are currently updating the display to High Definition and the difference is jaw-dropping!

Other Folks!

I’m a site with a particular niche. I talk about wine, food, travel, and the occasional review. There are sites whose one and only focus is all things Vegas. A couple of them are savages when it comes to stuff that pisses off all of us – RESORT FEES anyone? Parking fees? You have to visit their sites and enjoy not only excellent writing but the insights into the underbelly of Las Vegas. Enjoy!

Vital Vegas 

Ten Awesome Websites about Vegas

Best of Las Vegas

There are several others that are Facebook and/or Twitter only, and not everyone is on either platform.

So What Does This Mean?

I love Las Vegas. And yes, I often find myself in a surreal situation. It’s great.

My plans for the rest of 2019 is to spend some time with a camera in hand and take photos and share my experiences about living in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, enjoy the slideshow!

 

 

 

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