las vegas

Avenue Q

Steve Wynn could probably have had any show he wanted, but he chose Avenue Q, the Sesame Street and Muppets-inspired show that has to include a disclaimer denying its roots in the program and advertising. What the show’s creators don’t have to disclaim are the three Tony Awards the show won in 2004 for best score, best book, and best musical.

Sandee bought the cast recording (also at Amazon) because they’re the sort of tunes that get into your head…the sort of tunes you’ll find yourself humming days later. But that’s what you expect of a good musical — especially a hilariously funny one.

Above is Sandee with Kate Monster, the kindergarden teacher who dreams of opening a school for monsters. I believe the performer at left is the understudy, but I’ve lost the program and can’t begin to remember her name. Sorry.

Nevada Desert

We didn’t get to go to Barstow as planned, but I couldn’t leave Las Vegas without a peak at the desert. Fortunately, Red Rock Canyon isn’t far from town, and the Blue Diamond Highway does a nice loop there and back.

Along the way I found that the town of Blue Diamond has a new welcome sign, but the old text remains: “elevation: high, population: low, burros: ?” I stumbled across an upended car standing like a tombstone exclaiming “dirt man rocks.” The Oliver Ranch sign above is just across the road from the BLM’s Welcome To Red Rock Canyon sign. That’s where Vincent from New York found me. He pulled up in a cherry red Dodge Viper and asked for my help getting pictures of him with his car. We got shots with him standing at every corner and both doors, which is probably what I’d want to do if I was driving that car.

Atomic Liquors

I convinced Sandee to join me at Atomic Liquors on Fremont Street, just beyond the Western Hotel Casino in what the Las Vegas Sun calls the “gritty underbelly of Las Vegas.”

Owner Joe Sobchick and his wife Stella started business in 1945 with a cafe called Virginia’s. They converted it into a bar in 1953, and changed the name to recognize their proximity to the nuclear tests just 60 miles away.

Now nearly 90, Joe believes he’s been in business longer than any other single bar owner in town, and it’s been a good run. You’ll see his sign in TV, magazines, and movies, most famously perhaps in Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1995) with Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone.

The decline of the neighborhood challenged the Sobchiks, but they fought back. And amazingly — for a city that is constantly reinventing itself — the community seems to have stood behind them.

Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas…with your host, Casey

The wind along Las Vegas Boulevard was blowing hard, so it hides the fact that I’m currently sporting one of the worst haircuts of all time.

I’ve been meaning to take a picture of this damn sign for years — and more so after seeing beatnickside‘s collection of Vegas photos.

What You Lose In The Whirligig…

Nobody’s saying what caused it, but things didn’t go as planned at the MGM Grand Sunday night. We were told our room wasn’t ready when we tried to check in a little before midnight, so we ambled over to the cafe for a midnight breakfast on the house. Then at 3 AM, when our rooms still weren’t ready, we were sent to the Bellagio with a voucher for a free room and cab fare.

Vegas is a strange town that knows how to keep secrets, so it’s pure conjecture on my part to think that the housekeeping staff executed a work slowdown on Christmas day, but it fits what little detail I’ve learned.

Anyway, after a night (morning) in the Bellagio, we’re now checked into the MGM, and they just delivered a gift basket with a letter expressing their apologies and all. Some people were pretty angry and steaming last night, but I can’t complain so much.

Nuclear Test Site Tour

The above image is my followup to my Nevada Test Site Tour post from last month and comes courtesy of Adam Schneider’s very useful GPS Visualizer (you really need to see it full-sized{#15521015&size=o}, though). I still don’t have a cable to connect the ancient Magellan GPS I used to a computer, so I manually entered the waypoints I marked into the form and selected a few options, and viola.

Here are the points so you can have your own fun (the image above doesn’t include ‘A’):

name,desc,latitude,longitude A,Atomic Testing Museum,36.114444444444445,-115.14916666666667 B,Main Gate,36.645833333333336,-116.00194444444445 C,Mess Hall,36.66083333333333,-115.99722222222222 D,HazMat Spill Test Facility,36.801944444444445,-115.96944444444445 E,Railroad Bridge Test,36.79944444444444,-115.93666666666667 F,Control Point,36.93444444444444,-116.05111111111111 G,Bilby Crater (208KT),37.06027777777778,-116.0225 H,Ice Cap,37.08083333333334,-116.04555555555555 I,Sedan Crater (100KT),37.177499999999995,-116.04833333333333 J,Aircraft Anti-terrorism Ground Training Site,37.055,-116.10166666666666 K,House Damaged By Effects Test,37.04555555555555,-116.07833333333333 L,House Damaged By Effects Test,37.04222222222222,-116.07

Click on the links to go to Google’s high-res images for each area.

Related: Vegas Guide Part Three: Nukes and Moon Hoaxes and Chernobyl Tour.

beatnikside’s Vegas Photo Gallery

I can’t help but like beatnickside‘s Las Vegas Flickr photo set. It’s one of the most photographed of cities, but these photos are fresher than that. Sometimes enteraining, sometimes informing, the shots of Vegas’s glitz and glamour show special attention to detail.

This week is Vegas week at MaisonBisson, since I’m out here before heading to San Francisco to present at IUG 2005.

I have an inexplicable fondness for Vegas. My Vegas Guide from 2001 speaks of the curiosities of the city and the surrounding desert. In 2004 I finally got to go to the Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley and run through Crystal Nevada, home to the Brothel Art Museum and a bunch of “ranches” (all in one location, amusingly).

Expect a bunch of posts to my photoblog, but don’t expect much depth. This is Vegas, and it defies depth and nobility.