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 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 been  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 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

a need gas

A scam ? Maybe she was chasing the Tiger on her way to the City of Sin and ran out of gas on this highway in Arizona Photo by Royal Hopper

Chasing the Tiger

By Royal Hopper 


Once upon a time .. I was working at a casino on the Midwest, which is kind of like working in at an out door swimming pool in Alaska….I saw a woman walking through the casino moaning like a regretful spirit at the consequences of her life and gambling habit.
The woman moans as she walks _ actually moans as she walks…occasionally looking down at her hands and at the floor and moaning “How am I going to pay the rent?” ,,,IMG_2797.jpg

She would take a few steps and then moan again…”How am I going to pay the rent?”
There is an old saying from a western cowboy movie that I have watched several times _ one that is often ignored by fans of the epic telling of this mythic old west heroes and villains ….
“No one forces you to chase the Tiger,” says Wyatt Earp to one of his brothers in a movie dedicated to the Earps and their infamous showdown with a ring of criminal cowboys. The Tiger being a decoration on a gambling game popular in the old west called Faro that drained many a poor cowboy of his hard earned money. The Earps as we all know ran a series of Faro games in casinos in Tombstone Arizona in the Old West. People who kept gambling after they should have stopped were said to be chasing the Tiger. The phrase chasing the Tiger describes the City of Sin to a T.


Tail gating Arizona style at a rest stop between Phoenix and Arizona _ Royal Hopper

Every one has a Tiger _ an inner demon _ an appetite that they chase and hope they never catch….becauase they know in their hearts it will eat them if they do.
This chick chased the Tiger and it caught her ….
I remember riding down some well traveled commuter roadway in the City of Sin and stopping for some traffic jam or another and a spied a man looking down at a small vial in his hand like he was trying to make a hard decision. Right before the jam cleared up and it was time to drive on the man sighed and downed to vial of liquid immediately dropping his hands down to his side in resignation holding the vial in his right hand out of habit before simply letting it fall to the ground.

desert scape

Arizona style hospitality _ Royal Hopper

Taking another sigh and looking over at me sighing and shrugging his shoulders with a dark acceptance of what he had done.
The traffic moved on and I pressed the accelarator out of habit and as I drove away the man turned and looked out toward the starkly beautiful landscape of the City of Sin and then he faded back into the jumbled neon and asphalt; conrete and sand painting that is the City of Sin.
I often wonder what became of the man. Was that just an energy drink? Was it something more. Was he just trying to stay awake or was he chasing the Tiger waiting for it to catch him????

I have not met a person yet who didn’t have some kind of Tiger he or she was chasing dreading the day it would finally catch him.
That si the great lie of the universe and of the wonderful/horrible city. We think we are chasing the Tiger but maybe it is waiting for us to catch it so it can eat us ….
That my friends is one of the small wisdoms that life in the City of Sin teaches
Love you Sinners

people meeting on the street

Two people on a street corner _ Royal Hopper

The Glory of talking to strangers or breaking down the walls for a full minute


By Royal Hopper 


On a corner in the City of Sin you see a collection of people waiting for the light to change on a pedestrian cross walk. A man in a suit stands next a chick in a psychedelic jump suit/ sun dress and a dirty unshaven troglodyte dressed in yesterdays tossed away relics.
Suit guy stands heads down scanning a newspaper of some kind _ his outfit the very model of precision and social camouflage. His movements are sparse and necessary nothing more. bus stop .jpg
The psychedelic chick scans her cell phone flipping her carefully groomed purple hair her crystal pendant jumping and skipping across her neck as she does. She moves as if every gesture has some cosmic significance chosen by fate.

The scruffy character stares out at something in the distance lost in his own world and the beauty if mother nature.
All three occasionally look up at the red neon hand telling them it was not safe to cross and all looked impatient to stalk back into their individual worlds.

flag on the ground

A flag on the ground lays where it fell off a truck or SUV or wheelchair on a Sin City byway Boulder Highway. An accident I’m sure but strangely appropriate for today’s world _ Royal Hopper

Absent mindedly pointing out something he read in the paper the suit guy quickly slips back into his metaphoric world when something psychedelic chick says with equally absent minded automaton like grace catches his ear. Scruffy guy pulls himself out of his unique trance and says something that catches both of their ears and soon three people who have never met and would likely never given a second thought to the other are having a conversation.

lady on bench .jpg
Each says something and each in turn shakes their head in agreement each unconsiously grasping an item like it was a talisman of power..the suit guy clutching his paper like a life preserver and fiddling with his expensive watch…psychadelic chick clutching her crystal and tapping on the screen of her cell phone without thought.
Scruffy guy for his part cannot help occassionally sniffing the air holding a piece of something in his hand, a twig or dried out plat or leaf or rock. What it means to him is just as unclear as what it is but it clearly means something to him.
The conversation becomes more animated each momentarily abandoning their icons to participate in the developing interaction each contributing at their opwn speed and acknowledging the others and chiming in with their own contribution _ not in competition but rather in an impromoptu dialetic.

They seem freed by the idea they will likely never see each other again ..and the conversation builds in intensity as it continues each actually smiling a bit at the others.
As it reaches a state of genuine friendliness and respect the conversation suddenly comes to a halt. The red hand on the other end of the crosswalk has changed to bright green. It is time to cross to the other side. All seem reluctant but each is in a hurry for some reason and beging stepping out onto the cross walk as they shake hands and promise to meet again and talk _a promise all likely know is doomed but seems the right thing to do …


Vacancy hotel _ Royal Hopper

As they near the other side the psychdelic chick pulls a piece of paper out and scribbles on it tears it in half and hands it to both of her fellow commuters pointing at her phone. Social media can be a wonderful thing says the suit guy his deeper voice filtering across the static city noise. The psychadelic chick smiles as an infectious giggle also pierces the city static and scruffy guy… “All right man …all right ….”

Not a fairy or total bull It is just life in the City of Sin
(pieces of different stories in this city that could be true)
Love You Sinners

lady at corner

People on a corner _ Royal Hopper




The Inner Child and the Inner Adult duke it out for a moment


By Royal Hopper 


As you pull out of a local casino after filling your poor stomach with the less than gourmet quantities of a two for one buffet and head for the run around that will take you toward your cozy middle class home you notice something. There are two little yous sitting on your shoulder. There are two voices in your head telling you what to do at the approaching turn around that will take you toward your comfy middle class abode.
One voice the logical, safe one the one that adapts to the situation as it is not as you wish it to be says “traffic is fairly thick and the smart thing to do is too wait until the next intersection and turn there its just an extra three minutes be safe.:”


Sunset in the City of Sin..Digital captures the red and oranges of the sun like the human eye cannot _ Royal Hopper

The other voice, the other you the bolder one the hide bound one, the child’s voice the one who doesnt give a crap tells you…”This is the way we always go . I want to go this way no matter what damn it. Its my way lets just get over and go tghat weay no matter what..”
It’s not that the road is is the desert after all. Its not there are civillians on the road way. Its too early for drunks even in Sin City and the sign holders and commuters seem to have taken a day off. Its just that you have waited to long to get over and there are cars on the road.
“Just stay calm accelerate a little and get over when it is safe. Take another turn around you idiot,” says the grown up..the adaptive one the practical one..”
“Screw this .. This is the way I have always gone. This is the way I want to go now. I dont want to pay that much attention to driving I want to space off …Its more fun this way,,,” says the child, the petulant one the hide bound unadaptive eternally 17 voice.”
As the trials and tribulations of the past week pound around in your poor overused noggin as you warm over last night’s bizzare dream and fight off a wave of stomach upset from the years old chicken friend steak, sausage and eggs you mistakenly ate for breakfast the voices continie to argue and you notice that your turn is coming up.
The inner voices reach a crescendo until the point of no return has arrived and you make a decision and put your blinker on and move over one lane toward the turn around. As it turns out another car coming up in your blind spot has hit the gas and is roaring toward you as you brace for impact certain that this is day is going to start and end badly.


A rare cloudy day in the City of Sin _ Royal Hopper

Fortunately the other car brakes as you continue to change lanes and take the turn around you always take home from this buffet.
The voices are silent and the little figures sitting on your shoulder grow quiet. the child is smiling petulantly again certain he was right since nothing happened.. The adapative grown up is scolding the hide bound child and warning them of future infractions and the dangers they impose…
“Im tired of you putting me in danger for ego or tradition or custom.”



“Im tired of you telling me what to do ..of telling me that my way is wrong because things have changed or there is traffic or you cant see the other lane…
You sigh and turn up the radio suddenly aware that there are no voices or little men sitting on your shoulder and you are as sober as a judge or a Mormon preacher. It is just you and a decision to adapt, to change with the times and sometimes with the moment or stay sometimes dangerously in the past because “your way is right.”

It is the truth, struggle and life in the city of sin
Love You Sinners

signs jungle .jpg



The Sidewalk crouches at her feet

by Royal Hopper 

You ride down a Vegas boulevard and see a woman long and lean _ tall and mean and painfully well groomed dressed head to toe in designer everything. She walks with a confidence and arrogance better suited to a high end fashion show run way than a Sin city sidewalk leading from a convenience store that sells two for one six packs to a parking lot for low end apartments .


Can you help me out Bud green button _ Royal Hopper

She is a statuesque princess in a city of brightly colored crass peasants _ or so she thinks. She makes you think of a line from an old Doors song…” The sidewalk crouches at her feet like a dog that begs for something sweet…Do you hope to make her see you fool ……” (The Doors Hello I love You 1967 or so)

You look back at the scene as the light changes …Traffic is thick this time of day and your lane is being held up by pedestrians crossing the busy intersection so there is time to look again at the beauty and you spy her tail. or rather you spy someone tailing her…
Behind some yards back runs a man trying to catch up with her ….. trying to get her attention …6.jpg

You cant tell their relationship or even if there is one ..but he is smiling and running after her and she is ignoring his existence and everyone else’s for that matter _ walking like she is the only person in the world that matters she makes her way across the crosswalk of the intersection like a character on an album cover or a Clancy novel.
She reaches the other side her tag along in tow just when it appears you are going to be able to hit the accelerator and leave the scene behind when some uncaring soul stumbles out into traffic slowly down even the jaded Sin City crowd…..

He looks around seems to wake up and hurries back the the relative safety of the median and traffic continues on its Sin City way.

You look back over your shoulder as you move through the intersection because you didn’t have to drive today and you see the tag along catch up with his goal and see the Princess stare him down with a withering gaze that would scare Darth Vader out of his black cyborg tights. You can imagine this thin painfully groomed princess staring at an asteroid as it approaches the earth and moments before it it hits stopping to say. “Well at least I look good,” unconcerned at the coming apocalypse.

As you ride just out of sight you think you see a man with a camera in his hand stand up and gesture at the woman as she reaches the parking lot and pauses with almost painful grace and posture. The unknown photog gestures positively and walks toward the woman.. The tag along continues on his way ..apparently he was just nuts and drunk or both.
Las Vegas is a place where many things seem out of place and you should never never make assumptions based on superficial appearance. Many many if not most of the time it is an act and you are likely being played for some reason or another.

That is life, love and deception in the City of Sin brothers and Sisters
Take Care Sinners