Saturday, November 12, 2011

McFadden's Las Vegas at the Rio

Las Vegas Bloggers Hard At Work At McFadden's 
Those of us who write about Las Vegas are very lucky—especially those of us who love to eat out. Since I'm in the "If God wanted me to cook, He wouldn't have invented restaurants" category, I am particularly pleased when I get to visit places I haven't been before.

Late in October, I got invited to a Las Vegas bloggers event at McFadden's at the Rio. Las Vegas has almost as many Irish pubs these days as it does French restaurants (which really seems appropriate, if you think about it—ours is a city with an affinity for drinking and dining). I was pleased to try out McFadden's. I'm always up for beer and comfort food.

I was surprised that on a Wednesday evening, the valet parking at the Rio looked like a used car lot. (I was also running late, which means that "surprised" really means "irked.") "Is there a special event?" I asked the valet attendant, after I waited ten minutes to get someone to take my car keys.

"Just the dinner rush," he said. I thought that was a good sign. If that many people were eating out on a Wednesday night, the food must be pretty darn good throughout the Rio.

To find McFadden's from the main entrance, just bear to the right and once you reach the Masquerade Village—a.k.a, the shopping area—you can't miss McFadden's. It's got a  comfortable ambiance,  a sports bar/pub feeling. You will not feel out of place wearing jeans. There are no items on the menu that will leave you wondering if you should watch the Food Network more often to keep up on culinary trends. All of which, in my opinion, is a good thing.

McFadden's was happy to bring out plate after plate of food to our group of writers, and they were also thoughtful enough to bring out camera-ready plates of food bearing little labels. This food was not for eating… a fact I discovered after eating one of the labelled Mac & Cheese Bites. Oops.

And the food that was for consumption? I think I gained weight. Shepherd's Pie… yummy. Rueben Sandwiches… oh so yummy. Southwest Chicken Wrap… why didn't I get this first? Fabulously yummy. Mini Gourmet Burgers… please stop now. Guinness Battered Deep Fried Twinkie with Guinness Chocolate Sauce? Need I say more than "deep fried twinkie"? Don't even ask why there's no picture of that dish.

I admit that I was too buy eating and socializing to order one of their specialty beers, and instead had the green beer provided to everyone. I believe this means I must return.

Thank you to Wicked Creative and McFadden's, who hosted this event.

Update - January 17, 2012: Sad to say, McFadden's closed on December 5.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Trip to the Buffet

So there I was, writing about buffets.

And I don't mean writing one or two things about buffets. I had an assignment that kept me writing for an entire day about limitless quantities of all kinds of food: Sushi. Barbeque. Beef. Pork. Chicken. International dishes that I couldn't pronounce. Lobster. I'm sure you get the idea. I mean, what's more Vegas than a buffet? Apparently, my editor thought the same thing.

"What would you think about going to a buffet?" I asked my husband.

"I thought you didn't like buffets," he said.

"I'm reformed," I said. "And I have a player's club card. We can get a discount."

Soon we were standing in line at the Red Rock Feast Buffet. Just beyond the cashier, yards and yards of food awaited us.

When our waiter seated us, he said, "Remember you're in the section next to the Asian food. Otherwise, you'll get lost and won't find your table." My husband, son, and I dutifully took note of the big sign that said "Asian," then we set off to explore the vast offerings of the Feast.

My 13-year-old son was so overwhelmed with the food choices that he brought back a plate of salad. Salad. Oh my God, I thought, he's been traumatized.

I was delighted to find the sushi, conveniently located close enough to our table that I was never in danger of getting lost.

My husband brought back everything barbequed and fried that he could find. And my son recovered from the shock of so much food that he set his salad aside and bravely tried new foods.  

When we rolled out of the buffet, we were certain we'd never want to eat again.

As we waddled to the car, I had to stop to take pictures of the pretty waterfall at the front of the hotel. Since I'm a Las Vegas native, I'm rarely impressed with a hotel casino, but I do think the Red Rock is one of the prettiest in town. Had we not pounced on our buffet plates like ravenous beasts, I might have a buffet picture to share with you. Instead, you get to see the waterfall. 

A Rocky Surprise

This rock labyrinth sits just off the path at the Red Rock Overlook. I discovered it one afternoon when I drove to the Overlook for an emergency attitude adjustment.

The first time I stomped past the rocks, I never even saw them.

After I’d spent some time gazing at the Calico Hills and watching the tourists, I felt better. I got a good laugh when a group of teenagers screamed and did a dance when a flying insect buzzed them. (To be fair, it was a big bug.)

With my mental attitude adjusted, I headed down the path.

The light was fading, splintering through the cliffs to the west. This time I saw it: the small swirl of rocks, the spiraling path with a cairn in the middle. How could I have missed that? Talk about a case of blind anger.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Truth About Mystery Shopping in Las Vegas

Have you ever wondered if mystery shopping was a legitimate job? I recently found out the truth about mystery shopping, and the answers were surprising.

Since I’m a freelance writer, I look through the online job boards frequently. A couple of months ago, I was scanning the postings when I saw an ad for mystery shoppers (also known as secret shoppers). My son, who was hanging out in my office, saw it too. "It would be great to get paid to shop," he said.

"What the heck," I said. "Let's see what they have to say."

The job posting didn't ask for anything fishy. They didn't want my social security number or any kind of payment, so I sent them an e-mail asking for more information.

Now, I know that online job listings are loaded with scams. That's why I don't spend too much time looking for work on Internet job boards. I evaluate ads based on three points:

  • Is there a business or website name? No name often indicates a scam.
  • How bad is the grammar and spelling? All uppercase text, numerous misspellings, and outrageously bad grammar are not good signs.
  • What wage are they offering? Wages that are ridiculously high are usually scam bait.
The only point in the ad that raised any of these warning signs was the lack of a business name. When I got an immediate response to my email, something else caught my attention: the payment for a mystery shop was over $100. That seemed very high, so I started doing some research. And in an  email back, I asked for the business' name, address, and website.

My research turned up some interesting facts. Did you know that Nevada's mystery shopping regulations are the strictest in the United States?  If you want to become a secret shopper in Las Vegas, you must be a licensed private investigator or the qualified employee of a licensed PI. You have to have a special permit to legally perform mystery shops in Nevada. Legitimate mystery shopping companies in Nevada are very upfront about these requirements. Fines for illegal mystery shopping start at $2,500 and go up.

And that tempting $100-per-shop wage? The Mystery Shopping Providers Association of North America posts legitimate secret shopper jobs—most of which pay $25 per shop or less.

My son was crushed to hear the results of my investigation.

The person at the other end of my emails—I'll call him Mr. X—had already sent me the details of my first "assignment," which required me to cash money orders and wire the funds out of the country. In response to my questions about his business, he invented a really bad fake business name and told me their website was down. I emailed him that I was no longer interested in his mystery shopper job.

Mr. X didn't take this news well. His next email was peppered with threats about breach of contract.

I wrote back to tell him the regulations about mystery shopping in Nevada. And that his money-order-cashing scheme was an old and well-known scam. And not to contact me again.

Two days later, two money orders arrived at my house. The next step in my mystery shopper experiment: a drive to Metro.

Metro referred me to IC3, an online complaint center that works best if you have actually been victimized. I wasn't a victim of anything, so I had no luck with them. A little more digging turned up Consumer Fraud Reporting, which lists several agencies you can contact about Internet fraud and scams. Anything sent through the mail can be reported to the United States Postal Inspector, which was where I wound up… although nothing ever happened. I received an automated phone call to let me know they had my information, and that was it.  

I suspect Mr. X is still out there, looking for uninformed and desperate people.  

Have you ever responded to a mystery shopper ad? Or do you do legitimate mystery shopping? Either way, I'd love to hear about your experience. 
Photo courtesy of Helga Weber

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Remembrance and Honor at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery

On Memorial Day, I drove to Boulder City to visit my dad. He's buried at the Veterans Cemetery. He did not die in the service of his country, but his time as a Marine in World War II left an indelible mark.

I arrived not long before the memorial service in the chapel. I got there just in time to hear the bagpipers practicing. I listened to a hymn—I could not remember its name—as I sat with Dad and looked at the sea of flags around me. Every grave, without exception, was marked.

I left Dad for a while to visit the memorial plaza, where the breeze gracefully helped the flags to fly proudly. 

Honor guards of all kinds, from every branch, retired and active duty, gathered around the chapel for the service.

And some paid tribute quietly alone.

All pictures by Terrisa Meeks

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Calico Basin & The Red Rock Overlook

A few weeks ago, I was out looking for desert wildflowers. I went to Calico Basin and the Red Rock Overlook, where visitors don't have to pay an entrance fee. The entry into Red Rock Canyon NCA is only $7.00 per vehicle, but not only was I on a budget, I didn't have enough time to drive the 13-mile, one-way loop through Red Rock.

When I was a kid, my family picnicked at Calico Basin. In those days, there was no boardwalk—no one knew how fragile the marshy meadow and springs were. That was also before about a million people moved to Las Vegas, increasing the visitation to Red Rock and the number of people tromping all over the meadow. Now there's a big picnic area and an elevated walkway around the meadow. The squirrels seem to be pretty happy with the changes. They've learned that picnic area = suckers people with food.
Only a few flowers were blooming at Calico Basin, so my son and I headed to the Overlook.

Surprisingly, the areas outside of the Red Rock Loop have the most picnic areas. The Overlook is right off Highway 159, and it's stocked with tables, a really big outhouse, and a roughly paved path that leads up a little hill.

The wind was acting up, but that didn't seem to deter the insects from doing their jobs. After all, even with so few wildflowers out, there was pollinating to be done.

Where's your favorite place at Red Rock?

Photographs by Terrisa Meeks

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Las Vegas Urban Wildlife - Watch Out For The Mockingbirds

My backyard is a popular place for the local wildlife, in no small part because of the giant shrub-trees.

Mockingbirds particularly like our yard. They've nested in just about every suitable shrub-tree. As far as I know, they're the only type of bird that has nested in our backyard—unless you count the woodpeckers' unsuccessful attempts to peck holes in our house.

We haven't had any nests this year, but the season is young. Mockingbirds nest more than once each season, so we may yet have our aggressive avian friends raising their babies in our backyard. When they're nesting and raising their chicks, they will dive-bomb anyone who gets too close. If you have particularly ticked them off (like the time my husband climbed the fence to stick his head in the shrub-tree—bad, bad idea, by the way), they will remember you and attack you as soon as they see you.

We found this old mockingbird nest in our largest shrub-tree. The plum nuts and other food debris made us think that rats may have been using it. It's a marvel of construction, a masterpiece woven with twigs.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Trip to Las Vegas-McCarran International Airport

Do you remember when air travel was fun? Me too. I miss those days.

Yesterday I picked up a friend at McCarran. I remember when going to the airport to pick up a pal was easy. Now it's a test of your patience and pre-planning skills. Specific rendezvous point established? Check. Flight information set to alert you via e-mail? Check. Fully charged cell phone? Check. Big bunch of change, dollar bills, and debit card to pay exorbitant parking fees? Check. All physical needs taken care of—food, water, bathroom—prior to leaving the house? Check. Psychic abilities dialed to high? Check.
I've added this last point because at McCarran, they apparently don't believe in adequate signage. Don't know where you're going? Too bad.

After I exited the 215 and passed through the airport tunnel, I had an option for left or right. Neither direction had "passenger pickup" on its sign. I chose left because that's the way it was the last time I was there, and I figured I had a 50-50 chance. Fortunately, I was correct, and when I finally saw "passenger pickup" on a sign, I drove like a cabbie to make sure I was in the right lane.

If you haven't been to McCarran in a while, you probably don't know that the Airport Officials (I'd guess it's the same people who make decisions about signage) decided that metered parking was not good enough, so it's a minimum of $2.00 to park there. But, of course, there's no sign to tell you this. Had I been forewarned, I guess I could have kept driving loops around the airport, but instead I found myself stuck in the mandatory entry, screw-you-if-you-want-to-turn-around lane with the "press my button" machine staring at my driver's side window. I accepted that I'd have to cough up $2.00—in my case, for a grand total of about 20 minutes. 
But, hey, there I was at the airport, with photo opportunities all around me…. except that since I was at the airport, I started to wonder if I was going to be detained and questioned for taking pictures of the parking garage. (Government-issued identification ready in handbag? Check.) 
While I don't find airports or air travel to be fun anymore, I have to say that McCarran is a photographic place. It's jumbled and assembled like Victor Frankenstein was the lead architect, but it's interesting. And interesting, especially in Las Vegas, goes a long way to make up for aggravating and expensive.
Photographs by Terrisa Meeks

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Good-bye, Sahara Las Vegas

If you live in Las Vegas, you've undoubtedly read that another Old Vegas hotel casino is getting mothballed. May 16, 2011, will be the Sahara's last day. "It's a rare and dying breed," observed my 12-year-old. He's a true Vegas native.

Feelings about the Sahara's closing are mixed. Some lament the demise of yet another classic Vegas joint, and others are glad to see it go. Take this comment from one of my pals on Facebook, for instance: "Why wait...Lets implode that rat-infested non-profit earning eyesore now and create some construction jobs....Just my thought..." No plans have been announced for implosion, by the way.

I never spent much time at the Sahara. My major memory of the Sahara is from the days of Wet 'N Wild, in those happy times when I would float around all day in their many heavily chlorinated water attractions, and I would look up at the Sahara's clock and temp display and think, "Can it really be 115°? It feels so nice and cool here." Then, of course, they demolished Wet 'N Wild. No more lazy river, no more pondering the time and temp at the top of the Sahara.

My other major Sahara memory? The Adult Entertainment Expo, back when everyone thought it was an actual part of CES because both conventions happen at the same time of year (and still do--but in those days, the Adult Expo was at the Sahara, easy walking distance from the Convention Center). This was long, long ago, back in the days of my prior career.... at the police department. After using our falsified passes to CES (which had nothing to do with my employer of the day, incidentally), we'd tromp on over to the Sahara to gawk at the porn stars. Ah, the memories.

I recently read an trenchant observation about the fate of budget-priced, Old Vegas hotel casinos. Before the Great Recession, they offered an affordable alternative to the fancy New Vegas resorts. Now, even the big, fresh, glossy places have cut their rates and offer deals. Will there be a place for the Old Vegas hotel casinos remaining—in particular, the Riviera—or will they all go the way of the showgirl?  
Photo courtesy of John Griffiths

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vegas Places: Holy Moly, I Know That House!

When you’ve lived in Las Vegas all your life, you get accustomed to seeing the city on TV, in magazines, or online. But it’s one thing to see the Strip on television or in print, and another to see a home that you remember almost as well as the one in which you grew up--or a house that's just a few blocks from where you once lived.

If you watch "Pawn Stars," you’re familiar with Rick Dale of Rick’s Restorations. Back in the days when the northwest side of town was still horse country, I lived just a few blocks from his home/business. I drove by his place every day. In those days, he would leave a few vintage Coke machines outside to advertise his services.

At that time, our neighborhood was far on the outskirts of town. When I gave people directions, I would tell them, “Keep driving until you think you’re lost. Then keep going.” Today, of course, the area has a mess of homes, a mega-church, and a freeway. And Rick’s place is still out there.

The first time my husband and I saw Rick on a Pawn Stars episode, it took us just a few seconds to recognize the house. It was kind of strange, but fun, like knowing a secret no one else does—although I’m sure everyone in that neighborhood knows who he is now.

But I got my biggest, "Holy moly, I know that house!" in the pages of Las Vegas Weekly.

The magazine's February 24 issue featured an article about a house ("Mid-Century Manor" by Sarah Feldberg) with loads of pictures--which at first I didn't recognize. Then I read the article's first sentence, which said that the house had been owned by both Jackie Gaughan and Doyle Brunson... and I took another look at those pictures. Holy moly, indeed.

Back in the 1970s, when I knew the Brunsons (I was friends with their daughters during our middle school and high school years), the house looked a lot different. But I recognized the spiral staircase, the distinctive front door, and the lava wall. I spent a lot of time in that house. Looking at the magazine's pictures felt like a twisted time warp, or maybe a short journey to a parallel universe.

My own old childhood home isn't likely to show up in any media, unless it's on an episode of "Cops." I drove by the place about a month ago; time has not been kind to it. The houses in that old downtown neighborhood are a patchwork of the restored, the neglected, and the downright scary. The cars parked on the front lawn of my old place definitely put it in the last category.

Here's what the house I grew up in looked like, back in its prime. The first picture below was taken sometime in the 1960s (crazily enough, those awnings are still on the house). The second picture was taken in the backyard in the early 70s, at about the time I knew the Brunson family. That's me and our dachshunds in front of my family's beloved fig tree. The dogs and tree are gone, but the girl is still kicking.

Picture of vintage Las Vegas postcard courtesy of Mark Holloway

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

In Line at the Las Vegas Mob Experience

Last week the Tropicana unveiled the Las Vegas Mob Experience, the Strip's newest "interactive experience." Imagine a museum crossed with interactive theater, and that's roughly what the Mob Experience is like.

The Mob Experience wisely opened in preview form with limited hours last week. They were still smoothing out a lot of glitches when I was there on Thursday--several displays weren't working. Disappointingly, I saw not a single hologram. Other than the actors/guides who led us through the first bit of the Experience, the interactivity was non-existent. I hope that the fully working LVME offers more to visitors because I didn't see anything that would induce me to return, especially not at almost $40.00 per ticket.

Truthfully, I had more fun waiting in line than walking through the Experience.

My son and I were standing in the very long line when an older gentleman got in line behind us. He smiled and said to my son, "I used to work for the Mob."

"So did his grandfather," I said.

And here's the truth of it: if you lived in Las Vegas back in the days when the Mob ran things, it was kind of hard not to work for the Mob, in one form or another.

We were soon trading Old Vegas memories with "The Grim Reaper," as his badge read (my son was "Creepy" -- presumably, when things are working properly, these badges do more than give you a funky name). Reaper's wife, Cathy, had been a cocktail waitress at the Flamingo, but from what we figured out, it was probably before my dad worked there.

Reaper, Cathy, Creepy, and I passed the time in line trading stories about the days when the people who actually knew mobsters didn't talk about them. I managed to remember most of the places my dad had worked, found out that I was the same age as Cathy's children, and traded the stories every long-time Las Vegan has, the "I remember when" stories--"I remember when Rainbow was a dirt road" is one of my favorites.

"What was your favorite restaurant that's gone now?" Reaper asked me.

"Chateau Vegas," I said. I loved their food, but I especially loved their harpist.

"That was a Mob hangout," said Reaper. Coulda been, but when I was a kid all I cared about was their veal scaloppini and that harpist.

It wasn't until I became an adult that I had any real idea about the people my dad knew. Looking back, I realize now that being the food and beverage manager at the Aladdin in the 1970s says a whole lot about the people he knew. When I was kid, it was more important to me that his job meant we got to eat at the Aladdin's Sabre Room, the gourmet restaurant that sat at the bottom of a long flight of stairs. No harpist, but great veal. That was also before I learned about where veal comes from.

Was Las Vegas better when the Mob ran things? That's such a standard piece of Vegas wisdom that it's mentioned briefly in an LVME display. I think the small towns and innocence of youth always seem better in hindsight, no matter where you grew up, with or without mobsters.


Photo courtesy of chewstroke

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Vegas on the Cheap: Cheap & Free Stuff To Do

Most everyone is watching their budget these days, and one of the first things that most of us eliminate is anything related to entertainment. If you live in Las Vegas, however, you can find plenty of things to do that cost little or nothing. The next time you're hanging out at home, feeling oh-so-bored, try a few of these tips to get out without busting your budget:

* First, check the gas prices at one of the cheap gas sites online, or use your points from frequent shopper's cards (Smith's Grocery, Rebel) to snag some fuel discounts.

* Eat before you leave, unless you're packing a picnic lunch. This will help you resist the yummy food smells emanating from the restaurants that display menus without prices. Remember that old saying, "If you have to ask, you can't afford it."

* Learn about some Las Vegas history at the Old Mormon Fort, the Clark County Museum, or the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum. Admission at any of these is $2.00 or less.

* Check out downtown. Both the Fremont Street Experience and the Neon Museum are free. (Admission to the Neon Boneyard is not free, and requires an advance reservation for a tour.) First Friday, which is coming up this week, is also free.

* Get a schedule of events from the Clark County Library District. They regularly host speakers and workshops for free. Clark County and the City of Las Vegas also host many events that are free or low-cost.

* Take in the free spectacles on the Strip, like the Mirage's volcano, the MGM Lion exhibit, and the TI Sirens and Pirates show. Wander around the shopping-tainment places like the Venetian's Grand Shoppes, Caesar's Forum, or Miracle Mile--it costs nothing to watch the talking statues, the singing gondoliers, or the indoor rain storm.

* Ask about locals' discounts at Strip attractions. Places like the Shark Reef, the Bodies Exhibit, and CSI Experience are still on the pricey side, but more affordable if you flash your Nevada ID. This week, admission to the Mob Experience at the Tropicana is free; after Friday, it's almost $30.

* Experience the great outdoors. Even places that charge fees to get in charge by the car load, not the person. You can also find no-fee areas near many areas; at Red Rock, there's no charge at Calico Basin, the overlook, and First Creek.

* Use your Internet skills. Sign up with online discounters like Groupon and you'll get e-mails with deals. "Friend" your favorite places on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, and you'll learn about special promotions that you might miss otherwise. Check out what your other budget-minded buddies are saying and posting. Today I caught a FB post from a pal about Livingsocial, another site that offers discounts.

* Pick up a copy of Las Vegas Weekly, CityLife, or Seven--they're all free and carry listings of Vegas events and attractions. Keep an eye on the ads and you'll likely spot some coupons.

While my NileGuide Las Vegas page is aimed at tourists, I have lists of things to do that any local can use.


Photo of dollar courtesy of photosteve101 at
Photos of Clark County Museum and Calico Basin by Terrisa Meeks

Monday, February 28, 2011

CraigsList Rant of the Day

Writing about Las Vegas presents a dilemma these days: what should I say about the Great Recession?

Comments and e-mails from my readers indicate that they don't want to hear about economic anything unless it's either a) unfailingly positive and supportive of elected officials (umm, sorry, but that's not going to happen); or b) funny. If the comments on the Sun's boards are any indication, my readers are not alone in their aversion to stories about the economy. Read the comments on stories like ‘I couldn’t believe that someone with my experience couldn’t even get a job as a busboy’ or "Working class bears brunt of Las Vegas’ decay," and you'll see what I mean.

But it feels dishonest not to mention the number one issue in Las Vegas in a blog dedicated to the city.

Readers may be united in their dislike of stories about the recession's impact on people, but the people on the other side of the equation--those who have lost jobs, their home, and their life savings--are equally united in their frustration at a system that seems to be broken. And there's no better place to read about their frustration than on CraigsList.

Job seekers who spend months digging through bogus online want ads, or who wind up with jobs that barely cover the electric bill, or who are simply at the end of that proverbial rope sometimes use CraigsList for a little therapeutic cyber-venting. I've been reading these rants for a while now, and I think the really creative ones deserve some extra screen time. I'm not sure that I classify these rants as funny--although they can be--but they're definitely interesting.

Today's CraigsList rant of the day was plucked off the boards yesterday before it was flagged for removal. This gentleman was so frustrated and angry that his words were leaping up and down on the page. And he had obviously pitched a few cyber-fits before, judging from his opening comments, which I quote verbatim: "Thank YOU!!! Flagging me, over and over. This does not anger me, it validated me! It gave me much happiness, if I can piss off just ONE crappy, dirty, business/man...."

Here's an abridged and edited portion of his rant, which in its entirety was over 1,000 words long:

"... I know this most likely applies to the rest of the job searching community from pick axe to CEO, as I search for months to find work. I am just truly amazed, as I see the qualifications required by 95 % of these employers ... wanting the best and the brightest but hopefully we are ignorant with money? Expect college grads, or people who have spent years in technical schools for nothing, providing they have 20 years’ experience by the age of 24 and a masters in fornication. [Yes, he said fornication.]

I MEAN REALLY AFTER ALL THE EDUCATION THAT YOU EMPLOYERS REQUIRE, AND THEN YOU OFFER $12-15 AN HOUR, DO YOU REALLY THINK, IF I AM THAT EDUCATED THAT YOUR MATH FOR COMPENSATION EVEN ADDS UP????????????? [If capitals equal shouting, I'm surprised this man did not break his keyboard at this point.]

I LOVE the “NEW” American dream....

I guess it is time to leave this town after 31 years here....

Oh, and when the economy does come back around to at least a stable snail crawl.... I hope ALL you shi**y companies out there that have played on people's desperation get what's coming to you!!!"

Bud Meyers, the bartender who was profiled in the Sun's article I mentioned above, has been blogging about his experiences, and getting a lot of media attention.


Photo courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker.

This CraigsList ad was removed from the board the day after I spotted it. The title of his post was "Pipe dreams for less than un-employment (Lost Vegas)."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Art in Las Vegas: "Emergy" at the Charleston Heights Arts Center

Before I went to the current exhibit at the Charleston Heights Arts Center, "Emergy" by Maria Michails, I read some intriguing descriptions. The Las Vegas Sun's blurb is representative: "human-powered mechanized rowboat that generates power to a photo gallery." Hmmm. The idea of a rowboat in an exhibit gave me mental images of a large-scale room, but the actual display is small and curved, like a desert slot canyon. The rowboat is stationary, and it links the rower to the display's pictures in a very direct way.

Michails' images are presented on rectangular glass tiles lit from behind. Her photographs of the Strip and Lake Mead capture the beauty of each place, while juxtaposing the hungry lights of the Strip against shots of Lake Mead's "bathtub ring," the visible evidence of its drastically lowered water level. All the pictures aren't lit, however, unless you get in the boat and row to power the lights. Water and electricity are intrinsically linked in the desert: you can't have one without the other.

"Emergy" is on display through February 17. Charleston Heights also hosts plays and concerts, so ask for a program schedule while you're there.
Photography by Terrisa Meeks

Two Weeks Ago in Las Vegas: Snow!

Today the winter weather in Las Vegas is at its best: 70° and sunny. Yesterday at the grocery store, I saw people in tank tops and shorts. Hard to believe that just two weeks ago, this was what it looked like in my backyard. We get snow almost every year in the neighborhood I live in, and I love that it requires no shoveling and makes such pretty pictures.