(May 2014)

During one of my earliest Vegas trips, I was checking out the Tropicana
Tennis Courts (
Why? Hell if I know!) when I heard the voice of Bill Cosby
coming from the other side of a wall. I began to hyper ventilate and ran to see
my Mom in the pool area to tell her of my discovery. She told me to grab
something to write on and get his autograph. Well, 15 minutes, frantic search
for a pad of paper and a Keno crayon later, Cosby was already gone.
Disappointed but, grant you, not exactly traumatic, it did set a president for my
pathetic record of “star sightings”, or in my case “No Hit All Miss Star

The closest I ever got to meeting a mainstream celebrity is singer/actress
Olivia Newton-John. I won’t bore you with the details of my attachment to her,
just google
Xanadu Preservation Society and soak it all in if you dare.….and
it wasn’t just an personal encounter; it was a meet & greet complete with a
autograph and a picture. Too much and too soon for my first personal
encounter with Olivia, much less my first celebrity? I didn’t know it at the time,
but this sneaky premonition would soon bit me in the ass!
The M & G rules were established: no flash bulbs, one picture/autograph person and we had to wrap it all up within an hour. Needless
to say, it all turned to crumpled burnt toast the second Olivia gracefully walked on stage. The zig zag line arrangement through our little
area instantly collapsed as pretty much everybody cut in line and bunched around poor Olivia to get FAR more than one of everything
with enough flash bulbs to give the studio staff and technicians a collective busted blood vessel. Oh, and also due to the zig zag, me
and two of my friends ended up at the dead end of the line.

What did I get from all of this? A signed Soul Kiss poster (which I no longer have due to an angry roommate with a Prog Rock addiction)
and a half-assed rushed picture of the collapsing cacophony behind us, the security angrily staring at us and me with a look of
resignation as Olivia bent over in front of me signing my friend’s large painting of her. (
below, photo by 'Zilla Joe. not his fault!)
What did I REALLY get out of this? The decision that I’ll never go to ANY TV taping again (all that fucking clapping. OUCH!) and the
educational blowback I learned from meeting bigger Olivia fans than me. I also developed a more personal respect for Olivia for being
professional and tough enough to put up with this madness.  File this under occupational hazard, I guess.

….and now, over 20 years later, my mom got me a meet & greet package for one of Olivia’s shows at the Flamingo in Vegas for my 50th


This was going to be a short trip; fly in Wednesday afternoon and out by Friday
morning. Flexibility wasn’t in the cards for me this time, but I learned to adjust
to it. There was a similar situation a couple of trips ago as part of a Hooters
Hotel package; first day getting settled, fist part of the second day looking for a
place to print out the boarding passes and day three out! Sure, didn’t like it
anything with ‘Hooters’ attached to it isn’t going to be pretty), but when you
corner yourself into a situation like that, you just have to suck it in and make
sure you don’t do it again.

Luckily, Hooter’s wasn’t in the cards this time; it was borrowing my mother’s
timeshare at the Jockey Club on the strip. It turned out to be a one-bedroom,
but, luckily, the place was built in the 70’s, so all the rooms was huge! Lots a
space to relax, but I didn’t have much time to do so, I had the town and Olivia
Newton-John to enjoy.

Within the last few years I usually miss a few local evens around here, thanks
to the Allegiant’s oddball flight schedule (I have YET had the opportunity to
check out the monthly First Friday), but a smaller variation called Downtown
Wednesday was falling in the right place, it would start in just a couple of hours
after I reached my room.

There had been a few places that opened since my last trip, couple of which
where the former Imperial Palace and the former Barbaray Coast, otherwise
now known as The Quad and The Cromwell and they were the first two I
checked out. The poor Cromwell was originally planned with a long “G” word
that was named for a Russian hotel chain, but when it was discovered that the
“G” had Russian mob connections, the owners dropped them and re-renamed
the place.

As for the Quad, it doesn’t help that it had a previous life of a long established
themed resort. The old Palace took to its Asian theme to heart and it was
everywhere in detail. The Quad doesn’t have such a theme…in fact, the only
thing that tied the whole package together was the letter “Q”. Not much to cling
to. It went from a Palace to……a quad?! A college student quad?!?! I’ll have to
look that word up in the dictionary, but whatever definition there is, I suspect it,
much like collage, doesn’t translate well here in the real world.
IMHPO, humanity is restored
whenever I see the Holiday Hotel
sign re-lit to its olden days. Being
the sappy chump that I am.
This is what's left of the Imperial
Palace, remains of its store
arcade. Notice the population of
"Q" all over the place!
What probably the biggest ax against the Quad thus far is that it doesn’t open up to the Strip, much less offer something to the
pedestrian traffic on the street; just a big block of silver concrete and a small light show as an afterthought. It almost makes you think
why they bothered to refurbish the place in the first place.

The way to enter the Quad is through The Linq, a little store promenade sandwiched between this and the Flamingo that leads to the
High Roller farris wheel. As I have no nerve to ride such a high structure (the Stratosphere included, of course), I’ll just end it right here
and just head for downtown.
Luckily, Downtown is not under such self-
conscious pressure as with the Strip. Its own
attitude is similar to (but cleaner than) Bourbon
Street in New Orleans. The only real change seen
here is the lengthened zip line and Slotzilla. Other
than that, Downtown goes on its own marry way.
Further down Fremont a bit is the weekly
Downtown Wednesday deal.

A couple of blocks where blocked off for foot traffic,
urban playground and food trucks. A corner of this
fest was dedicated to the fancy food truck frenzy
that’s sweeping the urban nation and I was
seriously curious about the selections that were
offered. Well, seems the selections were QUTIE
fancy to the point that I couldn’t fathom what the
hell was going on; dishes, descriptions and prices
pretty much had me either confused or seriously
broke should I were brave enough to order. When I
noticed that I was chicken/too old/etc. to be the
targeted “foodie” here, I went off to explore the rest
of this show.

Fortunately, there was much non-foodieness to
enjoy; electric trees that were powered by bicycles,
a table were you painted your own version of that
hours theme, more earth-bound merchants and
more. There was a “Silent Disco” going on but I
couldn’t find it….must be dancing with headphone
on. I don’t know…
Part Two
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