Thursday, July 29, 2010

Vintage Vegas

Last week, the remains of the Moulin Rouge were demolished. Las Vegas’ first integrated casino was open for only six months in 1955, but until July 22, 2010, talk had persisted about resurrecting or preserving the historic site. The sad, lingering death of the Moulin Rouge is representative of the way Las Vegas has traditionally treated its history. Like a former lady of the evening turned legit, Vegas likes to ignore its past.

Paradoxically, those of us who have been here for a while enjoy a round of “I remember when,” as in: I remember when Rainbow was a dirt road; I remember when the sand storms were so bad you couldn’t drive; I remember when you could drive on Fremont Street; I remember when Red Rock was a long drive out of town; I remember when Lake Mead over-flowed Hoover Dam’s spillways. (And I’m only using my own “I remembers.” My pals have a bunch more.) I damn near cried when I watched a YouTube video of the Strip in 1991. There was the Hacienda, the Glass Pool Inn, the Dunes, the Sands, Wet ‘n Wild—all long gone now. But I reminded myself that time marches on for everyone, especially for those of us in the City of Neon. In another twenty years, can you image what Vegas will look like?

For more on the Moulin Rouge, read the LV Sun's story, which also contains pics and video.

Photo of Moulin Rouge (on “Life”) courtesy of Mark Holloway, a.k.a Nevada Tumbleweed

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sunset in Las Vegas

Monday night my son ran inside and told me, “You’ve got to come outside and see the sunset! Rays of light are shooting out—it’s like all wah-WAA!” He waved his arms to indicate this sunset was so majestic that it required angelic musical accompaniment. Everyone went outside and, sure enough, we were all immediately snapping pictures as the sun went down. Wah-WAA, indeed.

Friday, July 09, 2010

In Memory of Tobin Talbott

Last Tuesday, a good man died. Tobin Talbott, 34, an equipment operator for Las Vegas Paving, was killed in a construction accident. His loss has shocked the tight-knit Vegas community of truckers, operators, and construction professionals. Tobin was one of the best in the business, working on Southern Nevada’s roads for over 15 years. If you live in Las Vegas, you’ve almost certainly driven over a road that Tobin helped build. Several of his friends have speculated that God must have a big construction project going on, and since Tobin was the best, well, that’s who He picked.

Tobin was more than one of the best at his profession. He was a generous, caring, fun-loving man who always had time to help a friend. Tobin was one of those rare people with a naturally even-tempered and level-headed disposition—a rarity in the ultra-macho world of construction—and his easy-going nature won him friends wherever he went. Everyone who knew Tobin has a story about his generosity and thoughtfulness.

When his close friends and family gathered last week to honor his memory—Irish wake style, with shots of Jack Daniels, his favorite drink, for a toast—almost 100 people were there. That alone should tell you how beloved Tobin is. For his memorial service this coming Sunday, Tobin’s family reserved a chapel that will seat 300, and they’re not sure that will accommodate everyone. On Sunday, I imagine the crowd will have a chance to smile as well as cry when we say good-bye to this much-loved man. Tobin wasn’t the kind of guy to sit around drowning in sorrow, and he certainly wouldn’t want his friends and family to send him off in a flood of tears. It wasn’t his style, and those who knew him have no shortage of smile-worthy stories about him.

At the gathering last week, his friend Scotty told me, “If Tobin were here and had his pickup truck parked out front, and someone got in their car and smashed right into his truck, Tobin would walk up to them and say, ‘It’s all good. Don’t worry about it. We’ll get it taken care of.’ " Tobin was the kind of man who would drop in at a friend’s house to say hello, see his buddy in the midst of a big project, and then stay for the rest of the day to help. You didn’t have to ask. If Tobin saw you needed a hand, he just pitched in. He generously gave of his time and was willing to loan out anything he had. Tobin knew the true meaning of friendship, and he took every opportunity to show it.

But no description of Tobin is complete without mentioning two things: the desert and his daughter. Tobin loved those sandy, remote places where a man can zoom over the dunes on a quad or a sand rail, and from the time his little girl was a baby, she was out there with him. His love for his daughter was something you noticed immediately when you saw them together. Tobin's easy-going, loving nature made him a spectacular dad. Whenever I saw him at “sand camp,” as I call the city of RVs at the base of the Dumont Sand Dunes, Tobin was usually sprawled in a camp chair, having a drink or shooting the breeze with friends, and smiling widely. At Sand Camp, surrounded by his friends, his wife, and his daughter, it was hard to catch Tobin without a smile.

Tobin leaves behind countless friends and family members, including a beautiful five-year old daughter who looks just like him. His wife, Robin, is inspiringly stoic; she told me that Tobin’s love is what keeps her strong. Tobin was an only child, and his parents, Greg and Debbie, are struggling to accept a world that doesn’t include their son. God may have needed Tobin for a project on Heaven’s Highway, but down here, his loss is felt deeply.

Services for Tobin Talbott are Sunday, July 11, at Bunkers (925 LVBN), at 1:00 p.m. A visitation will be held before the service at noon.

A fund has been established for Tobin's wife and daughter. Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo bank to account 6453859958 for Robin Talbott.