Month: May 2011

The Strip Diary, Epilogue: We’ll Meet at the End of the Tour

Day Thirty Three: Mandarin Oriental (Comped)

8 am, London time and I’m sitting in the ‘bite.’ coffee shop in the arrivals hall of Heathrow airport, eating an egg and cress sandwich.

It’s a little more than 17 hours, including the New York layover, since I left Las Vegas. I’m tired, disorientated by the time change, and the portion sizes here are weird; like going back to your childhood classroom and finding all the chairs have shrunk.

My final few days on the Strip were a curious whirl of press — TV, radio, magazines, newspapers of various stripes — all of whom asked the same question in a different way: how has 33 days in Las Vegas changed my opinion of the city?

An amusing thought occurred to me as I stood outside Caesars Palace, talking to Fox5’s Elizabeth Watts: there’s probably no other city on earth in which a man wanting to stay an entire month would constitute headline news. But Vegas, of course, is unlike any city on earth: it’s a place where, so the popular narrative goes, out-of-towners like me fly in in our millions, drink our body-weight in alcohol, accidentally fuck a hooker and go home with enough “crazy” stories to get us through the rest of the year.…


The Strip Diary, Day Thirty Two: The Last of the Vegas Hotel Reviews, in Haiku Form

32 nights in 32 hotels; the finish line is so close I can almost bite it. Just one night still to go, at the Mandarin Oriental, and my month-and-a-bit in Las Vegas will be over.

Of course, technically speaking I’ve failed in my stated goal: to stay a single night in every hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. For reasons I’ve already written about — and talked about — at length, I skipped out of the Palazzo, replacing my night there with one at the M Resort. I mean, I could argue a technicality: the Venetian (where I did stay) and the Palazzo share a check in and booking process, and an entrance, so technically I could argue that they’re the same hotel. But I won’t. I don’t care. What I care about is that I made it through 33 nights, staying a single night at a different hotel. And I lived to tell the tale.

Not only that, but I’ve enjoyed every second of it. Even during my horrible check-in experience at the Riviera; even during the darkest, unfunniest moment of Criss Angel’s show; even during the resulting half-hour phone call from his show’s publicist during which she insisted I’d been grossly unfair to Angel — even during all of that, I haven’t once been bored.…


The Strip Diary, Day Thirty One: Enough Has Been Written On the Awfulness of Criss Angel, So Here’s a Video

Day Thirty One: Vdara ($109)

The last thing the world needs is another person writing about how terrible Criss Angel’s Believe show at the Luxor is. Instead, then, I’ve decided to do today’s diary entry as a video. In which I talk about how terrible Criss Angel’s Believe show at the Luxor is.

If you’re looking for a snappy rant, this isn’t for you. Instead it’s twelve and a half minutes of me venting my frustration at everything that’s wrong with bad Las Vegas magicians, and everything that’s right — by contrast — with Penn & Teller’s show at the Rio.

The too long, didn’t watch summary: Criss Angel’s show is a disgrace, his use of stooges is beneath contempt, I feel sorry for Cirque Du Soleil (who co-produced the show) like one feels sorry for the long-suffering wife of a complete dickhead — and you should see Penn & Teller instead.

Video below…

Untitled from Paul Carr on Vimeo.

Quick note: in the video I say I can’t believe that Angel’s show cost $100 million to put on. I checked. It did.

The Strip Diary, Day Thirty: The Las Vegas Natural History Museum Has Outlived Liberace

Day Thirty: The Bellagio ($144)

“I can’t even make payroll from admissions fees”.

Marilyn Gillespie isn’t complaining; simply acknowledging a fact. Gillespie is the Executive Director of the Las Vegas Natural History Museum and, in the world of Las Vegas museums, her’s constitutes a success story. “We had a Guggenheim, but that’s gone,” she says, “even the Liberace Museum had to close.”

Seriously — Vegas couldn’t even support a Liberace museum?

“It’s a generational thing. An Elvis museum might have universal appeal, but Liberace isn’t so interesting to people any more.”

I don’t know why the loss of a Liberace museum would make me sad, but it does. “Are the museum closures because people don’t want to venture off the Strip?” I ask. “It’s partly that,” says Gillespie, “but the Guggenheim was in the Venetian. The real problem is that Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world; not the culture capital. People don’t come here for the museums.”

Indeed they don’t. During my tour of the Natural History Museum, I’ve seen maybe half a dozen visitors: in an average year, roughly 87,000 people will pass through its doors, bulked by students from the 350 schools that fall within the museum’s catchment area (The Clark County School District is the nation’s 6th largest).…


The Strip Diary, Day Twenty Nine: The Oscar Goodman Show Must Go On

Day Twenty Nine: Monte Carlo ($76)

Oscar Goodman doesn’t approve of my new shoes. “You always wear sneakers?” he asks, peering across his over-ornamented desk at my bright orange Chucks. “I only own one pair of shoes,” I explain. And I do: the price of living permanently out of hand luggage. But Goodman isn’t satisfied: “You can’t dress up for the mayor?”

“I can’t dress up for funerals.”

I could have picked a better comeback, and a less well-connected person to be snarky to. This is, after all, the man who once suggested that an unsympathetic news producer should have her legs broken, and who sat by as a columnist critical of one of his friends was chased from a Four Seasons by the mob.

The fact that the mayor was drinking with the mob in the first place is a less remarkable aspect of the story: before becoming mayor, Goodman was a high-profile defense lawyer, representing old school characters like Meyer Lansky, Anthony “Tony The Ant” Spilotro and Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal. If you’ve seen the Scorsese movie Casino, you’ve seen Goodman: He played himself, defending a mobster played by Joe Pesci Robert De Niro.

“So what made you turn your back on that life and become mayor of Las Vegas?”…


The Strip Diary, Weekend Roundup: Yet More Vegas Hotel Reviews, in Haiku Form

Day Twenty Seven: The M Resort (Comp)

If I were prone to Trumpian flights of conspiracy fantasy, my paranoia would have been off the charts on Thursday night. Not twelve hours after I quoted a representative of Culinary 226 describing Venetian boss Sheldon Adelson as “a horrible human being”, I checked in at Mr Adelson’s flagship hotel and — well — it seems revenge is a dish best served offline.

For a start, the Venetian screwed up my booking: I had planned to stay a single night each in the Venetian and the Palazzo; Thursday and Friday. In fact, when I arrived at 9 p.m. on Thursday I found I had actually been booked into both hotels on the same night. To make matters even worse the person at the front desk was unable to fix the error, leading to the irritating possibility that my credit card would be charged as a no-show for the second room. Cool!

By the time I gave up trying to remedy the booking snafu, it was already heading close to 10 p.m., and I had to be up at 4:30 a.m. the next day to be on television. That barely gave me time to bash out a couple of already overdue columns and grab a couple of hours sleep before my wake up call.…


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