324: vice city

Originally uploaded by Okaggi.

Hi. Remember me? It’s your favorite Filipino blogger. It’s been a while since I rapped at ya, and it’s not because I don’t love you anymore. It’s not because I don’t care. I was busy. Seriously, I got busy. In Vegas, I got busy.

Vegas? you ask. Yeah, I was there for business. For a trade show which had me working the whole weekend before Thanksgiving. But who cares for leisure when there are t-shirts to be handed out, the brand name to promote? I’ve been back for a week now and I finally feel normal. I’ve eaten a few vegetables, retired my evil clogs for a bit, and am now ready to do a full braindump which, sadly, may be lacking my usual sass. Let the debriefing begin.

[VEGAS: 11/18/04 — 11/22/04]

Flight into LAS was uneventful. At least until we came in to land — I looked out my window and saw the strip winking at me. It was easy to see my hotel — the huge dark pyramid with a beacon shining atop it. I felt slightly embarrassed by the fact that I’d be spending the next three days living in a gigantic pyramid, but hey, I wasn’t paying for the room so I got over it. Split a cab with co-worker Scott to the Luxor, where a concrete sphinx loomed over the driveway. Pushed through automatic doors that opened out instead of in, and found the registration desk. Which was easy enough — you just follow the noise. The Luxor inside is a huge atrium, with guest rooms in the sides of the pyramid and two towers that are not part of the main building. The casino is at ground level, and I had to walk through it to get to my inclinator (like an elevator, but goes up the pyramid at a 39-degree angle). Through the pits, past the slot machines and pai gow tables. Past Nefertiti’s Lounge and the escalator to the buffet. Mind you, this is all beneath the mezzanine level which boasted an IMAX theater, a food court, and an arcade of gift shops. Up the inclinator to the seventh floor, down a long corridor to room 7009, where I saw that I had no bathtub and a view of Mandalay Bay next door. Took a shower, met Joanna, Jacalyn, and some of the boys near the blackjack room. Had a drink at Nefertiti’s, hung out by the craps table, then went upstairs and went to bed

Got up at 5:30. I know that time doesn’t really mean anything in Vegas, but I was still surprised to see people gambling at 6:45 as I made my way to Mandalay for the trade show. The walkway between the two hotels turned out to be a mall, so I made note of The Chocolate Swan, the Urban Outfitters, and the Paul Mitchell salon as I stumbled along. The Mandalay casino looked just like the casino at the Luxor — same bright lights and loud noises — but the cocktail waitresses wore what looked like swimsuits instead of the short dresses at the Luxor. A House of Blues on one side, a theater showing “Mamma Mia” on the other. I walked through some fake jungle looking foliage, past RumJungle, China Grill (they have a drawbridge!), Fleur de Lys, and Aureole (I guess the folks at Mandalay take their food seriously) to South Seas Ballroom F to set up the room for the first talk of the day.

I feel like saying now what I didn’t see when I was in Vegas. Fremont Street. The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, which is the only predatory aquarium in North America (or so they say). GhostBar at the Palms. Hoover Dam. Thunder from Down Under. Elvis (I know!). Liberace Museum. Celine. These are all things that I will happily save for another trip, a trip that would truly be for pleasure. This trip was all about work, and if I happened to have a good time, then I did.

Worked a few hours that Friday morning — talking to people about the product, demoing software, giving out t-shirts. I could smoke anywhere, but I didn’t want to do in sight of any customers, so I’d nip outside for some air, or hide in one of the seating areas away from the show. Cindy, who was in charge of our booth at the show, had put our names down at a Mexican cafe where we could charge our lunches to her room. But the restaurant was without power or electricity, so Jacalyn and I hit the buffet, where I ate Swedish meatballs, roast duck, fried rice, salad, a bit of meatloaf, and all sorts of random food items for cheap. And there were little sparrows in the buffet — not to eat, but in the dining room where they’d bounce around on the carpet and wait for you to drop some food so they could swoop down on it.

Friday, after the show ended, I went back to my room. Showered again. Futzed around and waited for the girls to come to my room. Sarah had dressed by 7, so she went to the Hard Rock for dinner with the boys. I went to the Luxor steak house with Jacalyn, Joanna, and Jed. I’m so glad that we were being subsidized by work, otherwise I wouldn’t have ordered the New York strip, which was delicious. Afterwards, we caught up with the gamblers at the Hard Rock. They were at the craps table, while all around us various hipsters and wannabes wandered around in the circular casino. I had to get out of the pit, so I walked around with Craig and Morgan. Found Simon, checked out the menu. Took a cab back to the Luxor with them, and went to bed at 12:30 because I am a loser.

>Saturday. Work work work. The fluorescent lights in the exhibition hall were doing nothing for my bloodshot eyes or breakout-prone complexion. Overzealous traders demanded t-shirts, one or tow of them dripping sweat onto a stack of fliers. After work, back to room for quick nap. Shower, dress in boring t-shirt and pants and met Sarah for sushi at the Luxor’s sushi house. I liked sitting down to eat because it felt like those were the few times when it was quiet. Otherwise, it was all noise and lights and smoke and drink. Which, normally, I love, but I was exhausted most of the time. We met up with Jacalyn in the lobby (Joanna had been enlisted to take some clients out to dinner, and would meet us later) and walked outside. This was the first time I had been outside in two days. We made our way to New York New York, which was truly a wonder and full of the same slack-jawed tourists I see everytime I go back to New York for a visit home. Central Park was the casino, and Coney Island an upstairs arcade for the kids who are not allowed into the casino. Little Italy and Chinatown merged to form a foodcourt where I had a chocolate mousse that was so good as to be profound. This, of course, was marred slightly by the rockabilly hooker next to us who spent the evening walking around with an old gentleman’s hand planted firmly on her ass.

Chris, Jed, and Jerry turned up, and we hit The Big Apple Bar for a cocktail. Soul Desire was excellent, though it was hard to dance as I was surrounded by coordination-challenged eurotrash. Left New York New York for the MGM Grand, where we had jello shots or something cheap and disgusting in a plastic glass before getting on line for Studio 54. I got in even though I was wearing the world’s dullest outfit, albeit with these adorable Adidas sneakers that looked like ballet slippers. Music wasn’t great, but I needed some loud music and a little ass-wiggling, though I spent the evening looking for a place to sit (my back was killing me) and smoke in peace. Jacalyn and I left early (around 1), making a detour through the MGM casino so she could play casino war and make some money. Back at the Luxor, we didn’t see anybody we knew, so we got some McDonald’s and talked about life and stuff until 3am.

Sunday dawned cold and rainy, so I didn’t miss much in the basement of Mandalay Bay. I worked in the morning, then checked out of my hotel and tried to get on an early flight back to Chicago. BUT! the weather was against me, as earlier flights were all booked and my 5:30 flight had been pushed back to 8:30, which would have gotten me into Chicago at almost 3 in the morning. After a few hours spent waiting for an earlier flight, Joanna and I rebooked on a Monday morning flight and returned to the Mandalay. Cindy got us a room, and can I just say nice effin’ job? Seriously, people, this was a nice room, with a view of the south and the desert. But there was a huge tub where we soaked our feet. Fluffy soft towels and a big television. I managed to eat some lunch at 4:30, bought some sneakers at the Urban Outfitters, and dressed for dinner. Cindy gathered the stranded folk at the China Grill, where we ate and drank and smoked until 11pm and our waiter stopped making the evil eye at us. I used the bathroom three times, as I had a lot to drink and the bathrooms were really cool. They’re like little dressing rooms that looked like ice bergs and had tiny tv monitors inside that showed music videos. So while I peed I was treated to Pink, or the Black Eyed Peas, or New Found Glory. It was funny. Instead of going out again (Joanna told me later that she and the boys ended up going to a bar at the Rio, then a strip club where some of the dancers were offering their “extracurricular services” for $250). She crashed with the boys, turning up at our room at 7:30 Monday morning, which gave her enough time to nap before our 11am flight took us back home.

I came back to a Chicago that was actually warmer than Las Vegas had been, so I felt this was enough to make me leave my couch and my Netflix DVDs to go to B.L.U.E.S. for Jed’s birthday. After he blew out the candles on his birthday pound cake, we sat back and listened to Willie Kent and the Gents, Bonnie Lee, and a few songs from Gloria Shannon. I was glad to be back in Chicago where it was quiet and not shiny and did I mention quiet? But I was already plotting my return to Las Vegas for a trip that I would actually have the time and energy to enjoy.

[/VEGAS: 11/18/04 — 11/22/04]

Other notes:

You don’t ever have to go outside while in Las Vegas. You can move from one end of the strip to the other without having breathed fresh air, just the canned air at the casinos. All you need to is use the trams, the indoor walkways, take cabs. There is a monorail, but it was only open for a few months before it closed earlier this year.

All the pit bosses at Mandalay Bay were Asian.

Most of the dealers at Mandalay and Luxor were middle-aged Asian ladies.

High heels are a viable option for walking, as you’re indoors on carpeted floor most of the time. Also, sequins are flattering on everyone.

A 40 Deuce is opening at Mandalay soon. Hipsters and dilettantes, get ready for your burlesque fix to be itched.

I saw no cute boys my age. Seriously, I spent most of my trip at a trade show attended mostly by retirees who, though cute in a ‘Cocoon’ my age, were not quite my swerve, as it were.

Fluorescent lights made my pores look huge.

In the next flip front: Thanksgiving, bitches.



“I’m not as drunk as thinkle peep I am.”

(Helen Quilley)


Helium – Pat’s Trick; Belle & Sebastian – I Don’t Love Anyone; Pavement – Killing Moon; The Faces – Bad ‘n Ruin; Beastie Boys – Skills To Pay The Bills; Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye – Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)






~ by Jasmine on November 30, 2004.

One Response to “324: vice city”

  1. Jerry’s pictures are up on Ofoto. My favorite is this one: that’s Sarah dancing in the light, with Jed and Joanna silhouetted on either side.

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