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Disturbed Dude….Dude !!!! Royal Hopper

Rock and Roll 

Somewhere in 60s in a dark Vietnamese jungle a soldier sighs breathing in the wet heavy jungle air and flips a doors tape into his tape player and filling the jungle air with the plaintive poetic sounds of the Electric Poet and his band of musical prophets. In San Francisco a Flower child listens to the Stones and prepares for the days protests and Love ins.
Decades later in the confusing 70s a young boy hears Rock and Roll for the first time and is changed forever _ trading in his Jim Croce albums for Zepplin, Queen and Pink Floyd he looks at the world in a new way. he’s still a nerd but now he has Rock and Roll in his soul.
Still later another soldier in another war plays Metallica while riding in a gunship over h the sun baked desert air (I saw this on you tube) From Bill Hailey and the Comets to Three Days Grace and Five Fingered Death punch ..Rock and Roll and all its bastard off spring have reminded us what life is and that we can live it better , less hatefully and more powerfully.

 

Whether it means dancing til you drop or just not being a Dick.

It seems likely that Rock and Roll was birthed in the conformist 50s as a cultural exchange program between white performers who imitated and blended music from performers of African decent likely wanting to sound cool and rebellious; and black performers who it seems likely wanted to pay the rent by making their sound accessible.
Rock and Roll endures because it eternally looks forward and reinvents itself ….
By the time the International Hotel later known and the Hilton was conceived Rock was in grade school a pre teen discovering its own power and freeing it self from its innocent past.
When the International Hotel was planned and built there was revolution in the air and the smell of petuli oil and marijuana smoke filtered through the air in most cities as the winds of change blew and Rock and Roll first exercised the full breadth of its musical power.

 

The Rock and Roll remodel

By Royal Hopper 
The decades old hotel where I work recently began a full remodel of several floors stripping the rooms down to the concrete and metal of their frames. Some remodeling was in older parts of the hotel where flower children no doubt worked along side fans of Bill Hailey and the Comets when the place was built. You can almost imagine the conversations that took place between the people who built the Icon now known as the International.
Some remodeling was done in places where floors were added to decades later when Rock was a teenager full of angst and irony.
If you stop and think for a moment you can feel the ghosts of those eras floating in the air and realized they all have one thing in common. Rock and Roll was always there even when they couldn’t book a gig in the hotels.
Under all the darkness and hard-driving beat and implied decadence the central message of Rock and Roll in all its incarnations to me is ..We are who we are not who we were and who we are can be better… as a species …as individuals as a family ..we can be and do better
The purpose of Rock and Roll is to let us know …we can do better ..We don’t have to be like we are…

 


The point of all this rambling is to tell you about a concert my significant other and I ( that’s wife for all you millennials) went to in the first part of this new year.
Disturbed is a Chicago metal band who in my opinion is in the top one percent of modern rock bands. The Days Grace opened for them and were pretty good too.
The black Gothic T shirt I wore contrasting sharply with the gray white of my tasteful goatee and got compliments from Teeny Bopper metal heads chicks who seemed surprised that an old guy could still rock out to the Driving Dark edgy Metal Beat of the Chicago based Heavy Metal outfit…..My wife’s long black leather coat and studded leather boots accented the black concert T she wore.
The show was awesome with the huge digital screen behind the stage broad casting images of the band 20 yards high _ large enough for those of us in the bleachers to see them.
There is one song I remember particularly called “Someone Taught You How to Hate” Disturbed (Immortalized 2015…. )
Paraphrasing Disturbed front man David Michael Draiman in his pre song speech …..”I don’t understand why we cant just all live together ….we are all in this together …look around there are black and white,, straight and gay …implying that we were all here to enjoy the dark metal sounds of Disturbed and why cant we all love each other in life as we do at Metal concerts …Prior to another song the band the Disturbed front man talked about all the performers and friends lost to drug abuse and suicide and depression and urged people to say something if someone they knew was in trouble.

 


Just remember the Metal front man seemed to say whatever the issue is we can always do better . That is the simplest way to explain Rock and Roll ..underneath all the bullshit decadence to real message is .We can always do better ….

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A saying by Disturbed keep reading Sinners -Royal Hopper

That is life and Rock in the City of Sin
Rock on Sinners

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Goodbye 2018 Don’t let the door hit you in the Ass

 

by Royal Hopper

Recently I was at work checking keys at one of the elevator lobbies in “my 50-year old hotel” as is the policy after 10 pm or 2200 hours when I noticed a gay couple walking up arm in arm holding hands and occasionally looking into each others eyes. Thirty years ago it would have shocked me ….

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I still remember the psychic dissonance I felt the first time I saw two men kissing on the Treasure Island boardwalk as the furnace like summer Vegas sun baked beat down on the wooden planks surrounding the afternoon crowd and a dehydrated crow sat on the rope side rails opposite me mouth open panting like a small feathered dog in the oppressive heat.
When I first arrived here in 1989 fresh from Uncle Sam’s Army in the days before don’t ask don’t tell and hailing from the conservative cultural hinterlands of south east Texas I was easily shocked.
Now going on 19 years here off and on working casino security it was routine I barely noticed the interracial gay couple holding hands and leaning against each other in ways that only couples who are long intimate do…. It actually seemed to be a bigger deal to them than to me. Color me democrat I just cant be bothered to care what grown men and women do to each other in their own time and out of sight.
I have seen so much working security in these places. I have seen loving couples both straight and gay beat the crap out of each other for reasons as silly as dinner or the wrong look. Family members _ brothers_ fathers and sons_ mothers and daughters _ playing UFC knockout on each other bloody and snarling when we arrived to keep the peace.
I have seen men get rolled by under-aged hookers and steal their wives money and blame it on the maid.. using their kids to smuggle cocaine. I have seen people with everything treat others like animals and people with nothing be generous and kind.
After all the crap I have seen and heard here in this odd …odd city my message to the world for 2019 is grow the hell up. Stop trying to make the world conform to your ideas of manhood of normality and false morality and just let people be. Live now and let others live now…..IMG_20181225_105406.jpg
This February will mark my 19th total year spent in the City of Sin between the 90s and now and honestly most New Years here just mean a little over time drunk guests and another reason we secretly want to retire somewhere quiet and sell petuli oil and whole grain cookies to Hipsters and Housewives. We love this city and we hate it in equal proportions at the same time.

Years are false measurements of time which is a human concept but that being said by any standards 2018 was a rough year politically, socially and personally and in the abstract I will not be sad to see her go ..

Hasta La Vista 2018 don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out

Look forward live now remember and move on. That’s the Sin City Way

Love You Sinners
Take Care

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The Kuma Dilemma

By Royal Hopper

We have a dog named a Kuma. Kuma literally translates into Bear or Teddy Bear. If your heart isnt melted by this dog five minutes after you meet her you might want to check your pulse.

When we got her from the animal shelter her tags read Lovebug and it was true. Although she didn’t seem to get along with other canines she loved people of all kinds and shapes.

Every one Kuma she meets she has loved. She was easy to love and won everyone’s heart in a few short minutes. It was or is rather as if she is addicted to affection and will get her affection fix any way she can.
But Kuma got sick very sick. One day she kept throwing up and her poo was black which meant blood in her stomach.
Kuma was very sick and we had to make a choice.


Long story short …The vet specialist we were sent to gave us a choice. Do we spend a lot of money and credit on this wonderful animal for surgery that would extend her life or just let her go…
As the logical part of our brains was trying to think things through and do the math ..the emotional part of our brain the part that falls in love said F this …this is Kuma ..this is our baby we have to try..we have try …we have to….
So we got an interest free credit card from the vet and put everything we could on out credit cars and told the vet surgeon do it….
So as to skip the heart wrenching interlude the surgeon was fairly gifted and the surgery went well and Kuma as of this writing is alive and enjoying life as you might expect such a lovebug to do while she can.

We went into this knowing that is spite of the surgery Kuma’s time on this earth would likely be shorter than it should be ..that she was on borrowed time under the best of circumstances ….. was it worth ..hell yeah.. Innocence and joy and unconditional love is always worth protecting ..,.and if you don’t believe that please don’t trying to be my friend because we don’t have much in common.
As I look at Kuma sleeping on the couch ..and yes our dogs can sleep on the couch in our house … they live here and you don’t and they are likely nicer beings ..As I look at her I cant help but feel for people who have to make that choice for a loved one a human loved one…
Imagine you have a sister or brother or wife or husband who was sick and you had to make that choice …I will try and make this a political point to end this personal story on but will likely fail ….here goes ….IMG_20181002_170646.jpg

That why I am for universal health care and price controls an end to preexisting conditions life time caps and all that healthcare free market nonsense…
Call me a Hippie although I’m ten years to young and a military vet ..Call me a lefty although every other industrialized nation has some form of protection for its citizens and healthcare costs are much lower in those countries including places like Australia and Israel. Call me what you like ,,,,No one should ever face the same decision we faced with our beloved pet with a family member or loved one.
ever….I don’t expect you to take care of my dog but if healthcare can be affordable and for everyone it should be …even for Kuma

That’s life in the City of Sin
Love You Sinners

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The City of Sin brothers and sisters – Royal Hopper. just the light was perfect and because it came out right

 

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The digital video screen at the Rob Zombie concert a few weeks ago -Royal Hopper

There is one very basic rule in computer driven creativity …save save save …or something you worked hard on will suddenly be gone one day …
I have had a devil of a time writing this blog and then a computer crash totaled what I had worked on so here goes again

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Another Zombie digital screen image –Photo by Royal Hopper

Never to old to Rock and Roll

by Royal Hopper
I sat there breathing in whiffs of the purple smoke that was rising above the crowd gathered to hear the king of shock rock wow the crowd with his nightmare version of Rock and Roll . The warm up band a British punk band whose name I sadly dont eremember had topped off their set with their hit Mr President and the roadies were prepping the stage for the main act.
It was June of 1980 and the first real Rock concert I ever attended that was not on the back of a truck at a county fair or at school. I used part of my birthday money I had saved for months. The ticket cost me 11 dollars and change… It was Alice Cooper’s Flush and Fashion Tour 38 years ago and I was 18.
A few weeks ago I sat in the stands of my most recent concert Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson weathering the sonic assault of state of the art amplifiers that made Alice’s stack of old school amps seem like two cans and a piece of string.

As I managed to flash the occasional Devil Horns and the occasional woohoo and occasional head bang wondering how big a hit my credit card would take for buying the tickets and T shirts … It hit me like a ton of Heavy Metal bricks .. You really are never to old to Rock …..The evening cost well more than $100 as opposed to the 21 and change I spent 38 years ago including a T shirt and coke I bought but the feeling was the same ….
There may come a time when you physically cant take the pounding of the amps and have to watch every dollar you spend but you are never to old for Rock and Roll unless you allow your self to be convinced otherwise. zombie.jpg
Thirty eight years ago the opening act finished up and the man Alice Cooper ( his real name is Vincent something) He bore a slouch that 18 years in the casino business tells me looking back he was stone drunk.
Marilyn Manson proudly proclaims he has been sober for 30 seconds and takes a big toke of what I presume was grass and starts to sing…The stageg show cost millions …
Back in 1980 I am thin, and good looking but such a nerd my parents drive me to the concert and dont look back. My mom was a bit concerned but dad waasnt even worried. At one point police lead a thin young man with skate punk clothing and long thin hair out the door. he never stops dancing as they walk him out.
In 2018 I went with my wife of nearly 24 years being nerdy enough to  hold hands during the concert. There are people smoking marijuana in the audience ….no one cares and both the headline acts do it openly.


Times change …Rock and Roll has become an exspensive hobby ..stage shows a massive digital production ..Im older and fatter and increasinglty hate loud noises and changes in my routine ..but I still love Rock…Rock and Roll….Heavy Metal..Punk…Alernative whatever you want to call it . The Spirit is still the same …Some people want to tell you that because you are older and less physically able to tolerate long periods of high intensity sound that you are suddenly going to start listening to show tunes and put away your Rock albums and fade into memory.. Let me tell you brothers and sister of Rock … Dont You believe It ..It aint true
For myself I can tell you it aint going to happen.. I will be a Rocker till the day I leave this earth and with any luck long afterwards….
You are never to old for Rock and Roll

Rock on Sinners ..Love you all
Renegade Out

 

 

One summer in 1980 I having survived high school sort of unscathed I used my birthday money to buy a ticket to a Rock and Roll show..It costs me $11 and change.

 

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In Honor of Elvis Week which was last week I am going to go over a few rules of Las Vegas vacations and try to hit several points every week…

Vegas Rules

* Keep your stuff on you or in the safe Your stuff is your responsibility. This is the City of Sin and someone will swipe your stuff if it is not secure..
* Take your meds. We are casino workers not social workers or counselers and if you get to nuts you are going to get evicted
* That hot chick half your age who seems so interested in you she actually buys you a drink is probably a pro and dude ..Shes going to roll you …she going to take your stuff and leave you with a hell of an explanation
* Pay your bills. Pay your room fees ahead of schedule before you run out of money. This is Vegas its very origin is wrapped up in a bright green package. It exists to make money and one you run out …See You …hasta La Bye Bye .. We really don’t care…

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Summer in the City of Sin always means people laying on the sidewalk. Come to think of it so does fall and spring and winter_ Photo by Royal Hopper

Summer in the City of Sin

By Royal Hopper 
Its summer in the City of Sin
Tourists from Idaho are in shorts
drinking Gin
The Sun overhead like a furnance
is blazing
The drunks from Canada arestumbling and at
the sun gazing
Theres a crow sitting on a pole wings open
staring with style
hes a zombie dried out unmoving been gone
for a while
The hot desert wind blows zombie crow around for a few
like a kite
the tourists look and actually clap locals supressing a grin with
all their might
signholders are holding and the cops are patrolling waitresses waiting
again and again
Its not crazy or stupid its really is just summer in
the city of sin

In the Summer time

 

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This week I saw a really great concert with Shinedown and Godsmack and a New Zealand band called Like a Storm and most of the photos will be of that great show

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It is a bird ..no really its just a bird _Royal Hopper

Trust is Fragile and seldom recovers

by Royal Hopper

 
You see a sleepy smiling man and an angry sad woman walking toward the checkout line in a Sin City hotel and you know instantly that something bad is going to happen . The day is hot and dry every time the wind blows smoke and dust and the oppressive heat of a desert summer mingle with nearly six decades of Sin, celebration, destruction and decadence . The morning after buzz of caffeine inspired conversation suddenly halts as the man sleepily gives a half hearted smile and reaches his hand over for the woman to hold and the woman fighting back tears angrily slaps it away. It wasn’t that loud of a sound when the hand struck the hand away but it might as well have been a gun shot because everyone stopped talking and paid attention.godsmack.jpg
As they approached the line the woman set the keys on the counter stepped back thought for a moment, turned on a dime and walked toward the door he practical shoes making a muffled thump as she walked.
The man shrugged a little and began a conversation with the clerk then stopped and looked toward the woman and started when he realinzed she wasnt stopping. The noise from the summer time morning casino crowd increased in anticipation of the fight they were certain was going to happen.
She turns on a dime again taking something from her jacket ..a large oiece of paper it seems and throws on the the ground and turns again to leave. The man’s face turns angry and he hurries forward to grab the woman just as two security gaurds no doubt called to investigate the disturbance step forward.
They are nopt small men and the man halts in his tracks as the woman pushes the door open with a huff and walks toward the cab line. The man dodges around the gaurds and runs out the door as the gaurds sprint to keep up and interpose their large bodies between the soon to be ex couple.
The woman halts in her fast walk toward the cab perhaps seeing the large security guards blocking the mans path to her and in one precise feminine motion takes something off her finger and rears back as if to throw it..stops and thinks for a moment and then just drops it on the ground ..and waves her hand in front of her toward the man as if to say “Im done …enough is enough”

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Shinedown

She closes her eyes says something to the gaurds ..something like thank you wipes tears from her eyes and then steps foward to hail one of the ever present taxi cabs gets in and dissapperas into the neon and concrete jungle that is the City of Sin ..
The gaurds leave now that the woman is gone and there is no fight to break up and the mans fumes impotently stomps his feet like a two year old and as the totally of the situation finally hitys him begins to fight back tears himself ..picks up the paper and the thing she threw down on the floor and concrete respectively and stumbles inside ..He heads toward the check out desk then changes his mind adn drifts over to the bar amd sits down with a thump in the nearest chair and looks up at the bartender ..who already has his drink made and sits it down in front of him…
Trust is a fragile thing ..it is a a treasure chest earned by other people and stored away for the rough times …It is easily shattered and bankrupted by selfishness, betrayal and lies and seldom if ever recovers ..Without trust and the ability to be trusted the smoothest opertor in the world is just another scumbag to be left drinking alone at a strange bar …His betrayal making them alone and lonely..

That is life in the City of Sin and everywhere else
Love You Sinners

 

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One of these things is not like the others -Royal Hopper

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Chicken Nachos never taste as good as you remember or live in the present

 

By Royal Hopper

 

It winter early 2018 and wind is blowing through the desert town like an angry spirit looking for a place to vent its winter angst on unsuspecting visitors. Its not really cold this is the desert but the wind is blowing into your face is dry and biting.
You and your significant other of nearly 24 years are tired and hungry proving the axiom that vacations and week end get aways are sometimes more exhausting than work can possibly be.
The idea was to walk down to the steak house at the end of the boulevard and treat yourself to a monthly dose of red meat and baked potatoes. Your mind is excited but your middle aged body has other ideas. Your memory screams steak….steak ….steak but your body says F that lets go to the closest place and eat whatever..

 

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The sun setting over the Caribbean -Royal Hopper

Just another half mile screams memory and you get a great once in a blue moon steak…..

Unable and unwilling to walk further despite the ambition that memories of youth scream at you disappears as with that unspoken agreement that only out of being together for a long time kicks in and you turn to the Belle ….and walk into the sports bar there to eat whatever they have…There is conversation because it is polite and you love each other but there is an unspoken sigh as you order Chicken nachos..
Surprise they are perfect ..tasty ..perfectly made crunchy and mouth watering …
The day is suddenly good as you share the perfect chicken nachos with your beloved …the world disappears for a moment and for a moment it is just you and her and your waitress. You finish your meal and walk away from the restaurant holding hands with a smile on your face and a memory that makes you want to go back….2018-07-24 18.36.42.jpg
Flash forward months later ..It is summer unspeakably hot like a giant blow dryer was built by space aliens turned invisible and placed over the city you visit just to make you hot and miserable.
Your middle aged common sense is telling you to turn around and just go eat at the Cafe in your hotel but the memory of the perfect chicken nachos an dholding hands with your beloved as the PA playes music popular when you were young drives you on ..You must have those perfect Nachos ……you must …
You push yourself to keep walking ..step by step toward your destination ,,,which you tell yourself is restaurant with great Nachos but is in fact ..a memory ..that’s what you are chasing a memory ….


You walk carefully into the colorfully named Colorado Belle across the casino and to the bar where the worlds best chicken nachos are served and then to the table in the colorfully themed casino full of anticipation and nervous excitement….This is something you have been waiting for weeks …months really ..and of course you order the perfect chicken…and then to your horror ..THEY ARE OKAY..not perfect…not …even great ..just okay ..tasty enough for bar food ..


Your disapointed and the memory is tarnished a bit ,,,,but you still end up leaving the bar hand in hand with your beloved ..sometimes today is better than a memory..not often but sometimes…Will you go back ..probably when the memory tarnished by the second chicken trip has faded and the memory of the perfect chicken nachos has reasserted itself.
The moral of the story is that nothing is ever as good as you remember even if it is it and it never will be…every moment is unique …Let the memories be memories and live in the right now because that is all there really is …
It is dangerous to live for memories or to expect them to suddenly expect them to be real or happening again because it it will never happen exactly the way you remember…
Love You Sinners
Royal

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