In a legal war that's been waging since before anyone had heard of Monica Lewinsky, the ACLU of Nevada has won yet another battle in its fight for free speech rights at the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas.
[ACLU attorney Allen] Lichtenstein said Ezra's ruling means visitors to downtown Las Vegas can expect to see more "First Amendment activity that is not controlled by the Fremont Street Experience Limited Liability Company," a private entity that contracts with the city to run the pedestrian mall.Great work, guys! (0) #3/20/2009
Remember the implosion of the historic Stardust Casino in Las Vegas that I blogged about in detail? It turns out that the construction in its place of the $5-billion dollar Echelon project has been halted due to weak economic conditions. So instead of the most beautiful neon sign in Vegas, the city gets several years of incomplete construction.
(1) # 8/1/2008
The Las Vegas Sun has a fascinating account of a Las Vegas poker dealer who puts up hitmanforhire.net and actually gets hired to do several jobs, with an M.O. of extorting money from his targets in exchange for their lives. The sordid tale involves bigamy, Ricin, funny aliases, and ends (so far) in an Irish jail. (via zenarchery)
(0) # 7/24/2008
Las Vegas Sun does an in-depth article on the graffiti art galleries hidden in the tunnels beneath the city of Las Vegas.
This is some of the best graffiti in town, only nobody will see it. The location of the work seems counterintuitive, considering the visibility and attention graffiti artists crave. That doesn’t matter as much to these artists, who care more about the unlimited canvas and all the time in the world to hone their skills, despite the danger of flash floods, crime and the unknown.The galleries first gained attention after the publication last year of Matthew O'Brien's fascinating book on the tunnels beneath Las Vegas, Beneath the Neon. (1) #5/27/2008
This is great: at the Clark Country Republican Convention two weeks ago, the registered guests and volunteers spent several hours at the convention wearing lanyards visibly sponsored by elegantangel.com, a hardcore porn site. So far, no one is saying how the lanyards came to be used.
(1) # 3/20/2008
I read a line in this weekend's New York Times Magazine that resonated with me deeply:
I found myself wondering, in fact, why there have been so few Las Vegas novels and why the best of them until now, John O’Brien’s “Leaving Las Vegas,” was so narrow and depressed.The writer is talking about Charles Bock's debut novel Beautiful Children, which came out this week. It's a novel set in non-touristy Las Vegas, where I spent the last two years. And the article mentions David Foster Wallace and William Vollmann as two of Bock's influences! I'm about to finish David Egger's fantastic What is the What, so I'll go buy this today -- expect a report when I finish. (2) #1/27/2008
The Las Vegas City Council has revoked the business license of the Las Vegas Garden of Love wedding chapel, who is accused of bullying its competitors, sometimes violently, within the aggressive local wedding market.
"This is not a garden of love. This is a garden of shame," city attorney Brad Jerbic said.(thx, flea) (0) #10/23/2007
Today is 7/7/7: "[M]ore nuptials are expected to be exchanged today than on any other date in Las Vegas history." I'd hate to be in Reno on 7/8/7.
(3) # 7/7/2007
Via Robin Leach, a rumor is going around that David Bowie might become a permanent Vegas headliner. Like Richard Abowitz writes, (hey, I love Lodger and Scary Monsters, too!), Bowie staying in Vegas is unlikely because he probably couldn't consistently fill a large venue. Despite the former glam, he's slightly too fringe for a regular Vegas gig. Plus, would he and Iman really want to leave New York City, where Bowie is frequently spotted watching up-and-coming bands at hip clubs?
Still, it'd be rather funny if both David Bowie and Zowie Bowie -- who I recently learned are not David Bowie's son Duncan Jones -- were performing regularly in Vegas. I bet you'd have quite a few confused tourists.
Update: The rumor has already been dispelled.
An animated map of home construction in Las Vegas during the past 100 years. Watch it bubble, literally! (via kottke)
(0) # 5/30/2007
Judge Halverson virtually proves the case against electing judges. I've been following this story for weeks, but now that the Vegas-loving Drudge has put it into the national arena, it's worth posting here.
(16) # 5/28/2007
A couple of weekends ago, I finally made my way to the Pinball Hall of Fame, located not too far from my apartment. I had heard that this pinball museum had opened sometime last year, but for one reason or another, I never made it down. Turns out it's one of the coolest finds in Las Vegas.
As soon as you walk in, it's clear how authentically vintage the Hall of Fame is. The first row contains 12 or so machines, laid side-by-side, many of them clearly hailing from the classic pinball days. As I went further into the room, I was surprised again and again by yet another full row of classic machines. All told, there are probably 60-70 pinball machines in there, ranging from the 1940's to present day. And did I mention that they're all playable?
I played a dinosaur-themed machine from the 70's, a Western-themed one from the late 40's, and an odd magnet-based game called "Orbital" where the ball rotates around bumper "planets" -- and then I played the so-called "Holy Grail of pinball machines" -- "The Pinball Circus."
"The Pinball Circus" is the best pinball machine I have ever played. $1.5 million dollars was spent designing it sometime in the early 90's, but for various reasons, only two were ever made. The Pinball Hall of Fame has one of them. It's built vertically, more like an arcade game than the usual inclined plane structure found in pinball machines, and has four tiers, each of which with its own set of flippers.
So you start at the bottom, go up a ramp to a small area with a single flipper, which can hit it up another ramp onto an animatronic elephant, which lifts up your ball to another level with two flippers, which can hit it into a divot where a giraffe lifts the ball up another foot or so to the top of the machine, where it's deposited into a clown's mouth, also with two flippers. At that point, the ball can be hit down its throat if you can knock down the teeth. Of course, you can fall at every level back down to the first, where you can lose your ball.
Here is a detailed picture of the playfield. It looks a little confusing at that angle, but it isn't while you're playing. It costs $1 to play, but you get at least five balls and the gameplay is fast-paced and scored by entertaining circus music.
Yet another Las Vegas gem tucked away in an unassuming strip mall.
Pictures from GameSetWatch, which has some more details about "The Pinball Circus."
Umberto Eco (paraphrased): Places like Las Vegas help preserve cultural artifacts. He's actually writing about a proposed theme park in Italy with shiny reproductions of ancient buildings.
(1) # 4/4/2007
Magician Criss Angel tears a woman in half in Las Vegas's Sunset Park, not too far from where I live. It's more of a prank than a magic trick, but I like it. (via movable buffet)
(7) # 3/20/2007
Ever since the Red Rock Casino opened last year, they've been heavily advertising Zowie Bowie's weekly performance there. I had always assumed that this Zowie Bowie was the child of David Bowie, AKA Duncan Jones, but never really looked into it.
How odd. I wonder what Duncan Jones thinks of it.
I'd like to write a little more about my experience viewing the Stardust implosion. Before I get to that, check out some videos of the implosion (thx, alina) -- as I mentioned before, my video did not come out because they turned off the lights right before the building went down. Evidently, I'm not the only one annoyed about that.
On Monday night, I had almost forgot about the implosion, but at 8pm or so I got a comment encouraging me to go (thx, slater). I remembered my regret after missing the Boardwalk implosion last year, so I resolved to not miss the Stardust's. But I was concerned about finding a good spot to view the event -- the Stardust is right on the Strip, and I didn't want to deal with parking my car, navigating crowds and construction fences, and potentially not finding a good spot.
My first thought was that I should find a nearby parking garage with an open roof. I looked at a Google map for reference:
The Circus Circus casino would clearly be the best bet, but I was concerned that it was so close that they would shut down the open parking area. (I was wrong -- the photographer in the link above was there.) Still, I thought my best bet was to find a spot behind the casino, off the Strip, where tourists would be less of a problem. Checking out Google, there was an obvious area behind the train tracks running nearly parallel to the Strip. I wasn't sure if I would find a good spot to hang out, but the view would be unblocked.
At 12:30am, we headed up in that direction. After navigating to my chosen street, I saw a car pull into a big parking lot. There was a bar there, but behind that, right next to the tracks, there was a large and empty lot. As soon as we pulled in, it was obvious that this was the perfect place. Not only did we have a clear view of the Stardust, but we could just sit in our parked car and wait for the moment. The picture below shows where we were, indicated by the red rectangle:
This is what we saw:
We waited there for about 90 minutes. During that time, a total of around 30 vehicles, mostly Nevada plates and including some off-duty cab drivers, showed up for the implosion. All we could see were some lights swirling around the building creating some odd psychedelic impressions, unaware of the party taking place on the other side.
At about 2:15am, two large fireworks were set off near the building. They seemed official, and our guess was that it was a 10 minute warning, which would correspond to the 2:30am time I had been hearing through the rumor mill. About ten minutes later, I saw large streams of water shooting into the air towards the Stardust. Flea told me that it was some sort of dust containment system.
A few minutes later, they began the fireworks show. I wasn't expecting such a flashy show, but it was actually an entertaining set of fireworks that lasted several minutes. At the time, I was unaware of the small private party taking place on the other side of the building. After the last firework was set off, the various floors of the building started flashing. I thought this was a visual effect of the explosives, but I later learned we were merely seeing the rear lighting of the numeral countdown that was being displayed on the building's front end. (See the videos I linked to above.) It just served to confuse us.
Then the building went entirely dark. A few short seconds, and then an extremely loud boom overtook us. The 32-story Stardust imploded, all of it collapsing straight down, except for one edge, which tipped over on top of the rest of the building. A huge cloud of dust spread to the north, missing us entirely. The whole time my jaw was agape -- it was an awesome sight: a historical landmark obliterated in one fell swoop. (Not including the months of preparation time that preceded the implosion, and the weeks of cleanup to follow.)
Yesterday was a groggy day, but I can now say that my time in Las Vegas included an implosion. And it was worth it:
The Stardust Casino was imploded at around 2:30am, and I was watching from about 1,000 feet away when it happened, with a clear view. I have some pictures, but the video of the actual implosion didn't come out -- whatever, good video should be available in the morning. Pictures and details to follow.
(4) # 3/13/2007