Somewhere in bat country on I-15 last Wednesday, as Change100 and I drove from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, I spotted a road sign in the middle of nowhere...
Salt Lake City 493The number 72. The year of my birth and The Hammer. Anyway, as soon as I glimpsed at the road sign, I unleashed a comment into the tweetiverse that said, "493 miles to salt lake city (saints); 72 miles to las vegas (sinners)."
Las Vegas 72
On the path towards salvation and the Mecca of Mormonism (the fastest growing religion in America), the road to Salt Lake City passes through the Las Vegas valley... a cesspool of filth, degeneracy, sodomy, and debauchery. And then there's the negative side.
This gathering would have not been the same if I originally picked a locale such as like Salt Lake City. That's not exactly a rock and roll kinda town.
I started a little social experiment in 2004. If you build it, they will come.
I picked Las Vegas. They call it Sin City for a reason. America's Playground. Or for you citizens of Canadia (yes, Canadia), it's sort of like playing in your neighbour's back yard.
This was the fifth gathering in December in Las Vegas among a group of people from all walks of life who shared a common thread among the billions of other people on the planet. We all have our vices, but a couple of times a year a group of people flock to Las Vegas to be degenerates together. Just like the Pink Floyd song says, we're just a bunch of lost souls swimming in a fish bowl year after year. But for one weekend every year, a hundred or so of us let loose and cater to our inner Stu Ungar.
Thirty people showed up the first time. I had not met more than two-thirds of them and we played a lot on Party Poker and Empire Poker. The majority of that group had not met anyone else before. All of that would change.
I created a monster, sort of like Frankenstein in a whorehouse. The winter gathering is the one weekend a year when normal everyday people kissed their loved ones goodbye and departed their hometowns with a wad of Benjamins held together by a rubber band. They flee to Las Vegas. A bastion for endless booze. Non-stop invitations to gamble away every cent in your pocket. Temptations beyond every corner and behind every shadow.
And in a day when the world is starting to make less and less sense, places like Las Vegas seem a little less absurd. It almost seems foolish to piss away money as the pillars of capitalism are imploding all around us. Then again, if this is the end of the world as we know it... then it's time to get jiggy with it. Bottom's up. Smoke 'em if you got 'em. Bet it all on black. If there's grass on the infield... play ball.
I forgot my garment bag and left it hanging in my office in Hollyweird. I pulled an Otis. He forgot to bring socks and underwear to Mexico the week before. I forgot a couple of dress shirts and a superfly tuxedo jacket. Although the jacket was important, I didn't really need extra dress shirts. It's not like I'm JoeSpeaker who brings several outfit changes a day.
There was an incident last year when Betty Underground made fun of me for wearing the same dress shirt two days in a row. I had to correct her. I didn't double up on outfits, rather I simply had not gone to bed yet and had been up partying for two days in a row.
That's what Vegas does to me. I didn't care about the garment bag as long as I had a bottle of Mother's Little Helper. In the Stones song, it was Valium. But you can insert your own favorite intoxicant in here _______.
On the first night in Las Vegas, I feasted at the Wynn buffet with the gang from LasVegasVegas. There was no line. In fact, most of the Wynn looked... dead. The sign of the downtrodden economic times.
"Las Vegas is a ghost town," mentioned Flipchip. "And when the cowboys leave when the rodeo ends, it will really empty out."
Derek absolutely killed the buffet and ate two or three times his money's worth. He had no less than five platefuls of food. The quality of the food at the buffet was remarkable and I rarely eat buffets with exception of the Wynn and Bellagio. Vegas buffets are a constant reminder about the decline of Western civilization. This is what we have evolved into. Sloth. Gluttony. Greed. Prime Rib. Bread Pudding.
We sat at a table nearby the seafood section. The longest line at the buffet was for the Alaskan king crab. We watched in amazement at random slovens wobbling away with crab legs piled three feet high.
"It's like they are walking away with the world's deadliest catch on their plates," said Change100.
The PokerProf and Change100 poked fun at the unwashed masses waiting in line for the seafood. They laughed uncontrollably when someone with a gaudy or garish outfit sauntered by with an excessive amount of crab legs dangling off their plate, like the guy decked out in Joey Buttafucco pants and a t-shirt that said, "I fish naked."
Another guy scooped out liquid butter into a drinking glass. He has at least 8 oz. of pure butter in a glass that sloshed its way around as he stumbled away from the seafood station.
It was my first night back in Vegas after the November Nine ended. I was reminded about the excessive binge nature of Las Vegas.
Maudie arrived around Midnight and headed over to the Imperial Palace to meet her. I booked an inexpensive suite at the MGM because they were desperate to fill their rooms. And besides, I got into a little trouble last year. The IP fined me for trashing my suite. It was total bullshit and an obvious shakedown. As Johnny Hughes said, "That's an oxymoron. How can you trash a room at the Imperial Palace?"
Anyway, I purposely avoided the Imperial Palace of inbred peasants for almost a full year. I forgot what the aroma of desperation smelled like until I stepped onto the casino floor and that scent jarred my senses. The collective odor of vomit, cigar smoke, and industrial disinfectant that reeked of faux flowers almost made me vomit on a cowboy.
We had a few drinks with Maudie and caught up on old times. She was at the first one and she watched the entire scene evolve.
Derek spotted a couple of working girls who looked bored to death, but not as bored as the blackjack dealers who stood around the pits with their thumbs up their asses. The joint looked empty, save for a few cowboys wandering around. We left when the Tina Turner impersonator began belting out Christmas songs. Jingle bells my ass.
The bride and groom to be finally arrived on Thursday morning. It was a pleasure to catch up with Gracie and Sweet Sweet Pablo. I see Pablo more often than Gracie these days. Pablo and I run in the same musical circles. In fact, he's chummy with my buddy Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot (PKPNF), since we frequent plenty of different music festivals spread throughout the country.
PKPNF's flight from Denver was #777. Lucky sevens. PKPNF showed up with just a jar of generic Viagra and a wad of cash. He was slinging pills at the various Hooker Bars all weekend. 1 for $10. 2 for $15. I won't out any bloggers who purchased his dick pills.
We drank Stellas at the Zuri Lounge at the MGM. That would be our late night hang out joint. The last time I drank at Zuri was Hallloween a couple of years ago when a drug dealer offered to sell me a gram of horse tranquilizers. I turned him down. I was way into uppers back then. These days, I'm all about sinking down to that glorious feeling. Pharmies and beer make Homer a jolly fellow.
I slowly bumped into a few familiar faces. StB. BadBlood. The Spacemen. We headed for sushi before we made our way to the Geisha Bar in order to keep up with an Asian fetish theme.
A couple of years ago, I decided to throw a cocktail party at the Geisha Bar. The location is the best part for folks checking into the IP. They have to walk right past the bar on the way to their rooms. Since then, the Geisha Bar has become a Thursday night tradition. If you get there early enough, you can catch everyone as they arrive. And if you are hardcore and drink into the early morning hours on Friday, you can catch the folks arriving first thing in the morning.
I told PKPNF that he should ask a dozen of my friends for $10 a piece in order to get staked into the blogger tournament. He walked right up to AlCantHang at the Geisha Bar and inquired about some backing. Before anyone could say anything else, AlCantHang peeled off a wad of $20 bills and handed them to PKPNF. ACH was not going to play and decided to stake PKPNF instead. Full buy in.
Word of the wise? Hit up AlCantHang for money before he settles his tab at the end of the night.
AlCantHang held court and properly trained the surly bartender how to respond to our hooliganesque antics and requests for beverages ranging in fruity cocktails to shots of the nectar of the gods.
I had a good buzz until Iggy started buying me Greyhounds and that's when things got a tad fuzzy. I kinda remember making fun of the fake watermelons on the Gwen Stefani dealertainer. I vaguely recall meeting a couple of first-timers who made the trek out to Vegas. That batch included OhCaptain, Josh, Pirate Lawyer, and Dredful, one of the regulars in Saturdays with Dr. Pauly. I definitely recall standing next to Mrs. OhCaptain as she embarked on a heater at video poker. I watched in awe as she hit quads thrice inside of an hour.
Then there was the cougar who set her sights on Iggy. She must have thought he was either a famous country western singer or the former star of one of my favorite cold-war era movies from the 1980s, you know, the one when the Ruskies invade Colorado?
Although as one blogger said to Iggy, "She's not a cougar unless she's older than you."
Iggy was cougar bait. DonkeyPuncher wore a suit. Kat and Joanne began making out, and then the Wife and Kat were swapping spit. I wondered if PKPNF slipped them some generic Viagra and/or pure MDMA.
Once the cougar failed to dismember Iggy, he stumbled back to the bar and succumbed to a miserable losing streak at Roshambo. Even PKPNF took advantage of a wounded wolverine and took $100 from Iggy on a best of five match.
PKPNF is a hustler, but I'm guessing most of you figured that out by now.
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