FABULOUS LAS VEGAS IN THE 50’s
By Fred E. Basten & Charles Phoenix

Much like the ‘Icon: Las Vegas’ book, there are
countless photos of the L. V. during the 50’s, only this
one has more pages (and bigger ones at that), more
information, a much wider larger scale of topics and an
introduction by the Vegas legend Keely Smith. Not too
shabby!

There are chapters as well; ‘Downtown’ & ‘The Strip’
covers the usual spots, ‘After Dark’ contains nifty
pictures of floor and burlesque shows, ‘Fun In The
Sun’ features many lounging by swimming pools of
yore, ‘Jackpot!’ parades a cavalcade of slots and
prizes and more. Care for some old Vegas swizelsticks
and chips? This book got them by the bunch!

Not much to go on from here. If you like plenty of
pictures of old Vegas, this book is for you. Plus, co-
author Charles Phoenix is an old hat with this mid-
century stuff with many solo books a’plenty and a
series of similar traveling slide shows you
MUST hunt
down and catch! Informative and entertaining!
THE GRIT BENEATH THE GLITTER
Edited by Hal K. Rothman & Mike Davis

2002’s The Grit is similar to an updated version of Literaly Las Vegas,
only without the fiction and a tad more serious minded. Plus the pieces
used here focus more on Vegas’ current social and political landscape.

There’s a whole chapter called ‘Nuts And Bolts’ containing articles of the
towns growth and infrastructure, like the water and power it consumes
and fights over them with other states and often its customers (and you
don’t want to know how your sausage is made here!). A fine chapter,
‘Voices’, contains stories of Vegas residents. Like any Vegas book, it
has a few titles about women working here.

A highlights include ‘Rise To Power: The Recent Rise of the Culinary
Union in Las Vegas’ which traces in detail of the raise, fall and raise of
the biggest union in town, including their long and hard fought victory
over The Frontier in the 90’s. ‘How I Became A Native’ finds a young
resident caught in the stereotype of living in “VEGAS!” and in between
the mob and corporate eras of the resorts his mother use to work in.
There’s a section that scrutinizes Hollywood’s version of Vegas is when things get loopy, especially around Martin
Scorsese’ ‘Casino’, probably the biggest Vegas movie since the original ‘Ocean’s 11’. and 'Viva Las Vegas' These
scribes here tent to over-intellectualize Hollywood’s fractured version of the frenzied reality known as Vegas.
However, I can’t see this much of a fault as you got these two forces colliding on film with the audience and critics
trying to figure out this mess. There are enough examples of reality being forced through the sausage factory (like
Washington D. C. and New York City) as it is, and it’s worse with this drama queen on steroids fight between
Hollywood and Vegas trying to dominate their realities over each other.

Well, now I’m over scrutinizing things here. Well, it’s a good and serious book…and I’m pretty sure if this was
published after the Big Oops of 2008, it would get more serious, interesting and maybe depressing.
More to come....I hope
page two
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NEVADA
Steve Gerber, Phil Winstade, Steve Leialoha &
Dick Giordano (DC/Vertigo)

Vegas publisher ‘Pop! Goes The Icon’ has been
making comic books related to this fair town for a
number of years like Tales From Fremont St. and
Tales From Lost Vegas. As far as I know, this isn’t
the first time comic books had visited Vegas. In
1998, DC imprint Vertigo published an off-beat
existential sci-fi mini-series called ‘Nevada’.

The main plot concerns a porthole (‘The Rift’)
from the depth of a distant universe opening up
to our world through the spot light on top of Luxur-
styled resort called The Nile and The Rift Warrior
who protects our reality from these Rift invaders.
At the start of the story, the warrior position is
about to change hands from a warn-out homeless
bum, who must remain drunk in order to fight the
rift visitors, to a showgirl named Nevada and her
pet ostrich.

…and that’s as simple I can describe the title as it’
s quite layered and complex in plot and character
development, which is typical of the creator and
writer of this series, Steve Gerber, who is better
known as the co-creator of Howard The Duck for
Marvel Comics. A theme that runs throughout
Gerber’s work is his imaginative examination of
the universe and human existence and Nevada is
no exception, like a short but elaborate list of rift
characters that reads straight out of Douglas
Adams’ Hitchhiker’ series, only more twisted and
without the Britishness.
The compilation book also contains a X-mas short story call ‘Piss On Earth’ where an angry and drunk Nevada
passes out and dreams of a VERY Vegas Christmas with the birth of Jesus…with her as the Virgin Mary and
Joseph played by Elvis….and ZZ Top and Little Richard as the four wise men.

This is NOT your standard ‘superhero’ comic, so if you demand more from a comic, much less anything written
based in Vegas (Gerber lived there during the time of this publication), be prepared for a wild and wooly ride.