Vegas Baby

Las Vegas has a couple of nicknames which come to mind: Lost Wages and Sin City.  I refer to it as Shit Hole.  Anyway, since it is part of my work territory and I don’t go there very often, I just suck it up, stay in a non-casino property and lay low.

If you are a person born there or call the place home forgive me. This is not personal against you or its citizens. The people that live and work there are pretty nice. It is the venomous visitors…the nomads of naughtiness who bring the plague. The city marketing folks give blessings to get shit faced, screw around, and generally misbehave…remember “What happens in Vegas…Stays in Vegas.” Its like you are on vacation from your manners. Right. B.S.

I am sure when Benjamin-don’t-call-me-Bugsy-Siegel envisioned the place, it was going to be great.  When The Rat Pack was alive they swung and crooned in 110-degree heat and the place was beyond cool. However, the Vegas of today is just nasty. The place is full of forced flashiness, forced falseness, and sadly forced fun.

Its only redeeming value is the plethora of Elvis impersonators…I just love those guys and they come in so many sizes, shapes and ages. The phenomenon is truly amazing. …

What seems like millions of constantly flashing digital billboards litter the trash strewn streets. They tempt you with everything from Pot Doctors, sex shops, lots of magicians with bright white teeth to Jesus Saves.  Cars/trucks inch through tremendous thoroughfares going nowhere. Really, driving or just being in Las Vegas is a huge drag.

It is loud. From every corner, building, room, hall, elevator, etc., music is blaring.  The Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas, which shared the parking lot with the Hyatt Place (where I stay), had Jimmy Buffett’s Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes screaming from the porch…I just don’t get the connection. Guess a rousing polka wouldn’t draw in the hangover wannabes.

Cars honking, drivers cursing, tires screeching, music blasting from cars, drunks on the street yelling…you get the picture/headache. Along with the sounds from the airport and Nellis Air Force Base there is no escaping the din of this dirty town.

Along with the complete hassle of being there, it is really-no nearly-impossible to get in and out.

Not to fear, I have found a secret. Fly in and out in the very early morning. I don’t mean 9AM…that is too late.  With the hangover reputation…not a lot of people are ready to be at a SWA gate for a 7:25AM departure.  However, I was and so were about forty other brave souls just trying to get out-of-town. Sweet, nearly empty plane!

On this dark morning there was a buzz in C Terminal-Gate 21. An infamous celebrity was flying SWA to Sacramento. I will not reveal his name. He is an accused abuser of women and drugs. He once bit part of an ear off an opponent in a sporting (not very sporting I should say!) event.

Oh well, this is getting long…anyway, there was no celebrity gushing like you normally see on TV.  No paparazzi. Just some fellow travelers who recognized him and slowed their pace long enough to catch a glimpse…like you do when you pass a car wreck on the side of the road.

He had a handler.  Now that guy looked like he could take you down. The famous one was small and frail in his stretchy Wrangler-old-man jeans and white tennis shoes. He seemed as faded as his face tattoo.

A woman approached and asked for a photo and was rebuffed by the handler. The famous one didn’t even look up from his reading. Then a young dad brought his young son (7 or 8) over with cute mo-hawked styled hair. Famous one nodded to handler, smiled and leaned in for a quick snap and then back to his magazine.  Really, I get it: famous one was a legendary boxer. However with what is known of his criminal background, who would want a kid near him? Yeah, yeah get off your soap box.  I know about his boxing foundation. OK!

Then some old couple just walked up and the old coot sat down next to him for a photo op without saying a word, just leaned in. It was like the famous one was a plastic Ronald McDonald on a bench.  Before the handler could shoo them off…the wife secured the photo and the ancient pair shuffled off. I got nothin’ for this guy…but that was beyond rude!

Our plane was at the gate and was empty. The handler kept going up and asking if they could board. Guess famous one was bored. Anyway, the gate folks put him off until we all boarded…although he must have been Business Class since they let him on first.  I did not see the Blue (in need of assistance) boarding sleeve.

Now, I have seen celebrities and other famous people on planes before. Some I can name…but you wouldn’t know them (Eartha Kitt and Cliff Robertson-see I told you so) and some I know their faces, but have no idea why.  They always sit mid-cabin in a window seat and usually behind a book or magazine.

Not this guy, although he was somewhat aloof in the terminal, he sat in the first row on the aisle and made eye contact with each of us passing looking for another coveted aisle seat for ourselves.

He didn’t make a move until we landed. Although I (Big 60 in just a few days) was five rows back and handled a bag…I still passed him in the jet way…just as he coughed and didn’t cover his mouth. YIKES! First thing I did when I got home: scheduled my flu shot!