I was 15 in 1977 when Elvis Presley died. I had never been west of Austin or even heard of the hotel where he had spent the last eight years of his life performing. Now if you are in the City of Sin …..listen _ his ghost is every where.
Despite its reputation as a monument to cutting edge interpretationĀ of vice and decadence Vegas is a place constantly looking to the past for inspiration..hence the old joke Las Vegas is a place where old acts go to die …..Vegas has a lot of ghosts. We have learned to ignore them.

statue front pioneer

The Front of the Pioneer Gambling House in Laughlin Nevada has many has many reminders of the past —Royal Hopper

The Ghost of the past only own you if you let them

by Royal Hopper

A couple trapped in time walks down a polished marble walkway in a Sin City casino surrounded by shops of all kinds, monuments to consumer capitalism in the modern age..
The red button down evening coat/dress worn by the woman boasts round white buttons running down the length of its front and looks fresh out of a JC Penny catalogue circa 1962.. The turtle neck and suit worn by the man reek of that early 60s male swagger although for this guy it seems mostly an act.
They look aroud almost dissapointed by their surroundings …to modern by half. The place they strut through has a touch of the same old feel to it …A 1969 vintage this house of decadedance boasts years of make overs, layers of marble and paint covering up the aura of the past it was built to honor …

sign carrier

Everywhere there are people holding signs – Photo by Royal Hopper

The couple other than the gray in the hair and the slight stoop in their step seem untouched by the decades. They stride past the watching shoppers in their modern casual, designer jeans, $100 tram jerseys, and generic grunge proudly wearing their anachricism like a badge of honor. In their minds they are 17 and the Beetles are a hot new group out of Liverpool…
A few days later another couple makes that ame foray into the past ..the man wearing a red polyester blazer seemingly more suited to the set of a time travel movie than modern Vegas. The woman wears a dress that looks plucked right out of your granmothers fashion catalogue.
Though days apart both couples seem to follow a script. They stop for a moment and look around ..as if trying to make a decision..Is the modern world worth the trouble ??? and for a moment look ready to shed 1962 and put on a pair of Calvin Kliens and a fashionable polo or a jersey and a Gucci hand bag or some such modernism…
Both stop and look around at the modern world but it is only a moment they stop …a moment later they shake off their questions about the wonders and demands of the modern world and stalk back into 1962 with the confused absent minded simplistic energy common to the age ….No one bothers them ..to be sure ..but no one notices them either.

They are much like the dated architecure of the place they walk through ..just there …
Understand it is not sentiment that leads the modern Vegas to ignore the ghosts pf the past even as they build monuments to them and stare in pretend awe of their spirits. It is simply not in the natur eof the City of Sin to be sentimental.
You will not find a less sentimental place than the City of Sin. There is loyalty if you look for it and are lucky …There are fortunes to be made if you are lucky and lost if you are not …. Sometime there is even love to be found and I can testify to that ..but sentiment is something for tourists and other less practical cities….. City’s less prone to drama and theater might indulge in the sentiment that allows you to embrace or reject the ghosts of the past. This is not San Francisco…This is not Alabama…Wed don’t embrace or reject ghosts… The City of Sin simply ignores them because that is our nature…

Near the expanse of marble at one of the local hotels where both couples walked there is a bronze statue of Elvis at telling of the King’s glory days in the City when he played more than 800 shows to packed audiences before he died ..in 1977 when I was 15…..Back then that hotel was his place …Bell bottoms, leisure suits, and disco was everywhere, Led Zeppelin ruled Rock and Roll and The King of the 50s reigned supreme in the City of Sin …..The Ghost of Elvis Presley definitely stalks the city…. But that’s all it is a ghost. ….
Ghosts only destroy you ..only effect you ..if you acknowledge their power ,,,and if you pay attention and agree to live there for awhile ….In the city of Sin we don’t

That’s life in the City of Sin Brothers and Sisters

Love you Sinners


The City of Sin is a canvas of human culture …There are many features in the complex culture of Sin City …Today we will talk about two types of obvious features of culture in this city ….beautiful fakes and that includes some of the people and the all to real often ignored realities of this painted lady in the sand we call a City of Sin

Some Real Things And Some Fake Things

by Royal Hopper


You drive down a lonely desert highway on a winter morning with casinos on the left and right as the rare wift of winter fog rises from the hood of your car. As you near your destination and pull into the turn lane you stop and wait…You see a man riding a bicycle bundled up like a gray nylon snowman against the chill of the desert winter. In his hands he carries four large packages struggling to balance the bike and the packages as he hurries across the crosswalk to let your waiting truck into the parking lot.


Sunset in the City of Sin – Royal Hopper

What does this brave soul carry ? What is he risking his health and safety to carry cross this burden across a frosty desert highway where drivers are known for occassionally picking pedestrians and cicylist of sidewalks …Pampers ..This bundled up bike rider is carrying four huge packages of disposable diapers ..Now imagine being sent out for the monthly supply of diapers on a bike ..in the winter across a Las Vegas highway knownfor being dangerous to pedestrians and bikers …That is reality …..
In the same city a man pauses and poses disgusied as a performer that died before he was old enough to cross the street without his Mama holding his hand. Fake …….One of many fake Elvi…..IMG_3807.JPG
In the same City still a woman walks across a Sin City sidewalk obviously exhausted from the day’s activities … her jacket over her shoulder just to tired to put it on …her cocktail skirt and silk stockings implying an exotic treasure you have to but drinks from and her cynical frown saying louder than words that even she doesn’t buy it anymore. She reaches her vehicle a small commuter car built for the city and her face lifts up and a small smile curves the corners of her mouth. A medium sized mixed breed mutt barks and wags its tail with enthusiasm at her arrival while her significant other unseen through the dark cheap 90s style tint of the cars wind shield and a small child wakes up from a nap and nearly jumps for joy at her arrival….Real and brother don’t you forget it ….

You what looks like a man sized statue so realisitic you can resist the tempation to touch it. It flinches making you nearly jump out of your skin. It is a picture poser dressed like a bronze statue..His partner dressed as Big Bird is just down the street along with several power rangers and a fouut six Darth Vader …cool fakes …
A kind hearted woman who has kind words even for people she doesnt like struggles into her motorized wheelchair adjusting the tubes clamped to her nose from the oxygen tank sh carries to breath and stops to take her medicine she she can catch her breath enough to shovel bills into her favorite 1 cent slot machine…….Real man …real
In a bar in a casino in the City of Sin a girl talks to a man twice her age hanging on every word maybe even buying him a drink offering to be his girl friend for the evening. Hint this is fake and the dude is going to get rolled …….

Every night tourists stand on the end of miles of concrete three feet thick and snap pictures of hand built volcanos four stories tall and powered by Coconut scented natural gas while down the artifical streets of Sin City a pretend lagoon and pretend ships a pretend skyline…a pretend Paris and Venetian cityscapes and miles of neon jungle dot the horizon.
In that same city street A dozen different realities scurry across the road between light changes or stumble into traffic after a long night out , bask on a rock in the desert or go to work to punch a clock and pay the mortgage ….
Las Vegas is a world of fake things ..of pretend things ..fake waterfalls..fake valcanos and Paris style fountains in the middle of the Nevada desert but it is also a place of all to real things ….

Every night beautiful fakes light up the desert night while awestruck tourist take snap shots, stare out at a loving audiences every night and wait to be cleaned, polished and prepared for the next batch of awestruck shutterbugs. Every night the real things go home and walk the dogs pr bte the cat as it chasers a rabbit.
There is an art to making fake things ..an art to allowing peole to enjoy fake things and getting them to gove you their money to do it …and a art to looking the real things with out judging ….
That is life, love, real things and fake things in the City of Sin…
Love You Sinners


A neighbors house on Halloween Day

Halloween recount in the City of Sin

by Royal Hopper


The coyotes howl and the desert wind blows
the sun rapidly sets and everyone here knows
the freaks are out in force their faces all aglow
You see a goblin three feet tall her silk cape red
her eyes are full of tears her face full of dread
She threatens to trick you and you treat her instead
The Woman of Wonder follows next in line
her friend a ghost mouth agape holding a sign
I need candy on which to feed and to dine
wave after wave of monsters in polyester
a ghoul a robot a princess named Lester
Freddy Kreuger is there and knight Leo the Quester
A fake little cow walks up and says boo
stops walking away to squat and take a poo
His cousin a ninja looks back and says eeewww
It’s not on planet far away in the stars
its not a soap opera or movie about cars
and its not protest by pirates with scars
Its outside my houses front stoop on Nickel Mine
and was over before I went in to dine
before I tie this all up in a big ball of twine
Its not a drama, or a dream inspired by a bottle of Gin
I tell you its just another Halloween night in the City of Sin
Love You Sinners

Halloween was fairly tame in the City of Sin this year. The kids had dressed up in costumes and had fun

In the city the most ordinary exercise in mundane futility can turn into near tragedy with a one second mistake. Drive through the city sometimes and actually watch what happens. People miss death and tragedy by seconds every day. Life in Sin City is built on near misses.

The Near Miss

guy sitting with bible versis

Taken with a cell because my camera is in the shop . This man can be seen from time to time on Las Vegas streets advertising his religion to the City of Sin. This is a little like arson kits to fire fighters but hey _ Royal Hopper

by Royal Hopper

As you drive down the busy Sin City byway, your brain on the blissful automatic setting that all city dwellers develop for the daily grind of life in the city you come to an intersection that should be safe.
The speed limit is slow on this street and there are many stop sings and traffic lights. It should be safe.


A photo of the neighbors Halloween decorations taken with my Alcatel because the camera is in the shop – Royal Hopper

As you pull to a stop at one normally peaceful and boring intersection on your way to the daily mortgage paying exercise you engage in by habit and necessity, your mind drifts away remembering the weird dream you had last night …the stupid thing you said at work because you haven’t slept worth a crap in weeks and the theme of the next blog you will write to keep your brain from turning to mush .
As the automatic part of your brain shifts gears looking up at the light to make sure it was still red …your eyes suddenly grow wide and your active brain screams to life with a surge of Adrenalin as one inattentive drivers creeps into the intersection to make an illegal turn and is stopped in its tracks by cars that jumped the light before it turned and are headed right towards it.
You draw a deep breath ready for the horrible sound of shreiking tires and the crash of metal on metal and the sirens of the fire and police and ambulance first responders that inevitably follow a tragedy in this city.
At the same time a cab driver ( a vegas cab driver mind you ) gets impatient at waiting at the intersection for the mini traffoc jam to clear up and floors it right at the time the car stuck in the intersection and for a second it seems a three car collission is unavoidable and right about that time a pedestrian jaywalks across the street behind the intersection and reaches the median just a a vehicle turns into the turn lane and looks for certain it is about to clip the pedestrian.

guy walking with cart

This is just a dude and his bike and his cart..Taken with my Alcatel because mu camera is in the shop…Photo by Royal Hopper

Reflexively you press your foot down on the break pedal and flinch turning your head away at the coming disaster …Then as you prepare to grab your phone and call EMS in case they somehow miss the inferno of mayhem that is about to happen ….turning your head and vberting your eyes but somehow unable to avoid watching …you see nothing ….
The impatient cab driver who seemed about to plow into the car stuck in the intersection missed them by inches veering slightly as he sped through the intersection. The car waiting to turn was finally able to turn and the car stuck between them crept across the intersection seemingly stunned by the close call . The pedestrian jumped up onto the median and stood waiting patiently for the light to turn ans perhaps regretting jay walking in a mixture of commuting casino workers and intoxicated tourists from Minnesota.

Just as quickly as it developed the near miss was over. No one even stayed around to flip the bird at the other motorists. They just went on their way to the next near miss.
You cant obsses about near misses and could have beens and almost was’s There are just to many of them to worry about each one. When near misses happens you suck in a breath of fresh air learn your lesson and move on… There is just to much to do
and if you thought to much about it you would never go outisde.

That is life in the City of Sin
Love you Sinners



I will depart from my usual stories about life in the City of Sin to look back at something that happened in a small town in Texas when I worked there at the hometown newspaper.


I remember standing on a street with the Chief of Police in a small Texas town waiting for a bomb to go off while a bomb squad flown in from Houston used a special piece of equipment to take it apart. The moral of this story is not what you would expect but this is how it started. What they found is what this blog is about. I have told this story before but it seems especially relevant today….


Orange Leader newspaper archives

Sometimes its a bomb and sometimes it isn’t

By Royal Hopper

One day while at my small dusty old desk at the Orange Leader one of the last real hometown newspapers in SE Texas sifting through piles of news releases. The paper (I don’t remember who got the call honestly) got a call from the office of the chief of police that there was a bomb threat at a local bank. Some genius whose name I don’t remember and wont mention even if I did had tried to rob a bank with what he said was a bomb.
When I stopped giggling I realized they were serious and grabbed a camera and a reporters notepad and jogged out to the parking lot.

I cant remember whether I walked or drove. The scene was a few blocks away from the 1964 vintage mold filled dusty neo modernist box of a news building the Leader occupied back then. When I got there the Orange Police Chief Sam Kittrell was there and the then Orange County Sheriff Mike White was somewhere around. ”


Just a random shot of a man and his phone

This guy had the misfortune of trying to rob a bank when police officers were nearby. He arrested the would be robber then took a look at the device he had used and decided it looked real. The departments leaders decided it looked real enough to call in an EOD team from Fort Polk an Army military base in nearby Louisiana. The EOD team arrived after a period of time and took a look at the device and decided it looked real enough that they should call in a certified police bomb squad from Pasadena, Texas a good 80 miles or so away.

The Pasadena squad was flown in….took a look at the device and decided it looked real enough that they needed a special piece of equipment from their offices in Pasadena. One designed to tear apart and disarm a bomb with a jet of high pressure water without setting it off.


Just a random shot of a Las Vegas sunrise – Royal Hopper

One of the Orange County Assistant DAs was a licensed pilot and owned or had access to a small plane. He flew one of the bomb squad back to Pasadena got the equipment and flew them back to Orange with this huge piece of machinery weighing down the small plane.

They landed got the equipment to the scene disarmed the bomb with a jet of high pressure water from a distance and then gathered round to see the results of their work ..to see what exactly what this would be robber had threatened the bank in this Southeaast Texas berg with.

What they saw made a lot of people gasp >>>>sigh >>>>> and then perhaps giggle a little ..It was a can of spam with wires attached ..about as dangerous as lunch at a cheap diner….

This robber had committed a federal crime with lunch meat, a few dollars worth of wire and tape and an old tote bag….


This is not intended as sarcasm or politics just to make a point. The people I describe here are professional men and women who are intelligent, courageous, good at their jobs …They did the right thing. Thy were cautious and used the resources at hand to disarm what might have been a tragic o at least dangerous outcome.


This is a random shot of people on a Las Vegas street in 2014 ..or is it ??? _ Royal Hopper

I have told this story before but it seems especially relevant right now…. Sometimes the object the bad man has could be a can of spam with some wires attached to it and sometimes it could be a bomb …

That’s life
Love You Sinners

The City of Sin is in mourning. It is impossible to express the shock felt by the various communities in this city. Heartfelt empathy to the victims of Sunday’s mass murder and condolences to their families. Tears for those that are lost. Respect to the men and women of law enforcement in this city and a promise to those they protect . We are there for each other.
Blood banks turned away people from their doors becaue so many had volunteered . People donated water and food to survivors. This city has a heart…Dont doubt it for a minute…and it has big brass you know whats too.
There has beenĀ  much debate as to why this man did what he did but know this in the end the least of our citizens ..the poorest man on the street is better than this murderous evil ass who had money in the bank _ much more than most ….

cityscape (2).JPG

Sometimes things are not what they seem and sometimes they are……

by Royal Hopper

You see a lot of things in the city of sin if you pay attention
Driving down the street on your way to work you see two people standing by the road way one bending around closely examining something in his cupped hands while concealing it from passersby. His companion looks at him with confidence then smiles as the man bends back around facing her and holds the cupped item in his hands. She takes the item continuing to conceal it and turns her back to the traffic to conceal it and takes something else from her pockets and hands it back to the man who smiles and continues to conceal the item looking at it intently before concealing it in a coat pocket and hands the woman something ..perhaps money and concludes the deal with a surreptitious hand shake.

cave grafitti

110 year old graffiti in a cave in northern Nevada – Royal Hopper

The two seem pleased with themselves and stand unconcerned by the side of a busy Las Vegas commuter road ..until two of the City’s finest drive by in a clearly marked squad car.. The two scatter as the PD drives by being careful not to panic ans run so as to attract the attention of the PD…
Every day in the City of Sin you see players and wannabe players doing things they should not be and pretending to be angels or tourists flaunting the rules of a civilized society with every move they make.

homeless guy looking out at city

A homeless man with nothing is still a better man than the psycho who killed so many in Vegas Sunday – Royal Hopper

Sometimes you have to look twice at woman you are talking to because he might not be what she seems. The smiling purveyor who employs the woman you seek to rent for the night may be the one who robs you in the morning. A woman walks up to you at work and asks you where the lady’s room is .. Her or rather her voice is deep and she needs a shave..She is a dude…
You have to make sure your doors are closed .. When you go to bed because there are teams of thieves who do nothing but push on doors looking to steal your stuff …Everything is a hustle in the city and even the honest people are out to get your money ….
But !!!!!downtown from highway.JPG
Even in the City of Sin there are rules…rules to live by and one of the cardinal rules is everyone is here to have a good time .. you keep the game between the players..you dont bring the game to innocents and you dont kill 60 innocents and wound 500 because you are pissed or depressed or for any reason….
I have never been a truly religious man Im not sure if there is a place where evil people go to be punished after deah …..but if somehow there is a place called hell.. If there is a place where the evil go to be punished then surely this evil POS in there ..reliving the horror he put all those people in from there point of view over and over again…Sometimes things are not what they seem and sometimes they are

That is life, death and tragedy and survival in the City of Sin
Love You Sinners stay strong .. We are not done by a long shot

mountain in utah.JPG