Canadian Vacation

quebec

Coastal Canada ….. Royal Hopper

A few months ago I was vacationing in a beautiful civilized place having a wonderful time and hadn’t noticed the idiot circling the tables in the Canadian mall until my wife had pointed him out. As I saw the bearded tweaker circling the small group of tables in Coastal Canada my Sin City Radar went off like a klaxon on a ship in a bad WWII movie .
Then I sighed and pulled my camera bag closed to me and started him right in the eye with my best “Im local don’t even think about jackass,” look which even though I was damn near 3000 miles (I didn’t actually count but 3,000 sounds cool) away from home seemed to do the trick and the man targeted someone else. “Ah well,” there are assholes in every walk of life and every country even in civilized Canada. I really loved our cruise and will get into the positive aspects in future blogs but I had to get this off my chest first.

adventures of seas 2.jpg
My Vacation

by Royal Hopper

First I would like to say I had a wonderful time on the cruise my wife and I took down the Canadian east coast …It was the first time in months I had relaxed even a little …and there was only one time my Sin City asshole alarm went off during that vacation. Every Island big or small was amazing ..the people were friendly, the prices reasonable by Vegas standards and most importantly for an American the food was tasty. Lets face it we like to eat and will always notice bad food.
I think it was on Halifax Nova Scotia or it could have been Sidney _ I don’t recall exactly.

IMG_20190917_072053.jpg
We were tired from walking and shopping and stopped in the local version of an indoor mall to grab a bite and reorient ourselves. I almost didnt notice the hyper stoned looking bald bearded tweaker “reconing” our tables and walking in an ever tightening circle looking at our stuff. My wife spotted him ..20 -years in casino security and it was my slot manager wife who spotted this idiot “reconing” out table. Now he might have been mall walking and just desperately in need of caffeine but I doubt it …nahhh he was looking for stuff to take.
As mention above I generally don’t panic when I see someone who is up to no good … I have just seen it to many times. So i gave him the look gripped my stuff tighter and sighed as I left the area.
Even in the most civilized of places there are bad people who want to take your stuff and does give a crap how hard you had to work to get it. As I watched the man pace around the interior of a Canadian mall and actually paid attention I knew instantly from 20 years working security in Vegas casinos he was both stoned and looking to steal something from someone.IMG_6835.JPG
He was not mall walking.
One of the great things about living and working in this City is that you are not surprised when people suck…and sometimes they do even in a civilized place where the people are generally there is always at least one asshole to watch out for….
Life and life lessons in the City of Sin…
Love you Sinners

IMG_7048

An actor at a historical tells the Canadian side of that period in history -Royal Hopper

 

IMG_6610

A homeless camp that once occupied an un-landscaped Russel Road in the City of Sin. It is gone now and I dont know what happened to its owner _ Royal Hopper

Your here and then …your gone

by Royal Hopper

 

You walk into the room with trepidation slightly behind the people who accompany you _ the stale smells of humaness of body odor, stale socks and life lost hanging in the air… The remains of a meal and two large drinks sit stale on the counter in the back of the room,. The red brown traces of food smelling of stale potatoes and sauce and onions sit on e the center of plate
The lemons in the tall glasses are just starting to turn a little brown and the ice long since melted and either drunk or evaporated. There are bits of personal property here and there but the room is sparse and somewhat Spartan.IMG_6615.JPG
You look to the right (cant be more exact privacy reasons) and see some blood .. This was someone’s last day on earth. That day they enjoyed room service and two tall lemon filled glasses of some Vegas style drink a day of gambling and then they were gone.
One thing living in the City of Sin has taught me is that life and the end of life isn’t like in the movies most of the time. One minute your a person with hopes and desires, favorite foods, favorite drinks, a favorite TV show favorite shoes …a history and stories to tell and then suddenly your gone …invisible ..a thing now ….
Later that day you see a young man walking across some place the law says he is not supposed to be …everyone watches as you politely tell the young man’s parents he cant be in the casino because everyone notices youth and the power of youth and potential. They even notice the 30 something couple walking across the casino sarcastically overdressed and rolling their eyes at the “peasants” who notice them. From their conversations they are not geniuses and may be as dumb as rocks . They are not invisible and are not gone.
Still later an older man at the bar is obviously sick and cannot tend to himself. He immediately gets attention from the staff of the hotel/casino and from surrounding friends . They call him coach and are clearly worried about him. He is not invisible …..
back to the empty room.


As you enter the room your companions who are much higher on the casino food chain look to you for reassurance and obviously nervous about the routine but unnerving part of their job they must now do. You manage a fake nod of bored confidence out of years of practice…but the sights in that quiet stale room will stay with you for decades to come. You leave the room realizing you have seen a dark Gothic painting of someone’s last day in the City of Sin …one that will be cleaned up and ready to be rented to someone else’s memorable decadent day in the City that’s for its own survival has learned to be cold and distant ..to smile reassuringly and pretend to know the answers pretend to be untouched.
I cant tell you precisely where this happened for privacy reasons but suffice it to say it was in one of the 100,000 hotel rooms in the City of Sin. It is a constant melodrama here… People come here near the end perhaps wanting one last fit of decadence before the reaper comes to claim them or perhaps just out of habit if their youth and then they are gone … just gone….

That’s life and death in the City of Sin
Love You Sinners Rock on

The dichotomy of decay and memory

IMG_6457

What city has a giant tortoise as its mascot ask Bullhead City, Arizona–Royal

To remember and forget

 

by Royal Hopper

 

You see an older woman in a yesteryears outfit clutching something in her time worn hands using all the strength that remains in her to hold onto it. Exhausted she stops and looks at it tears welling up in her eyes as the memories it calls up flood into her world weary mind and then looks at the bag in her other hand that contains a bottle perhaps cigarettes and candy and a few other things.


She opens the hand that holds the sacred object that is clutched between her palm and a tall thin drink glass lets out a heavy sigh and walks over to a counter setting the small object down on it. She takes a sip of the drink as if she plans to finish it off and pick up the object again realizing instantly that this is an impossible idea. She looks at the object and at the bag of goodies and then turns and begins to walk away from it with a sigh.
She gets three of four steps toward the elevators and stops in her tracks the memories apparently overwhelming her. She turns slowly in a half circle clearly summoning most of her remaining strength to do so and drops the bag on the ground near a trash can shuffles over to the counter picks up the item and shuffle toward the elevator with the drink in one hand and the beloved item in another.


A kind passerby in a uniform picks up the item and offers to help her transport it to her room. She takes a breath steadying herself by putting her wrinkled hand on the the man’s suited shoulder and gives him a reassuring thank you but no pat takes a deep breath and continues on her way..the memories and the kind offer giving her the strength she needs to take it to safety.
the item was just a trinket of some by gone day with a tiny photo stuck in one corner worth very little. Some things are just worth preserving …They both think as they part ways.IMG_6451.JPG

Beware the spin, the myth and the half truths
I once wrote or started to write a dystopian future in which my city The City of Sin was falling apart. I described it as looking like the corpse of a giant celestial neon dragon covered with beautiful murals and graffiti had crashed to the earth scattering its neon scales across the dry dusty sand covered furnace like landscape. People still came to it I wrote ..to marvel at its former beauty and revel in the beautiful ugliness of its desert tomb..The city of Sin was now a mockery of its former self. The bright colors of its past struggling to stand out underneath under the weight of decade long neglect and tons of dust, desert sand, sun baked glass and dry rotted plastic.
I was in a desperate mood at the time and writing this was a way of expressing my dissatisfaction with the city I love.

The joy experienced to see such an incredible thing like the City of Sin brought to its end is a perverse part of the human psyche. One day when this finally happens if it does …people will come from miles around to marvel at its former glory and gain joy from the fact that such a powerful monster is still there and they are there to see it..I defy you to prove me wrong and would be grateful to be proven so.

Now to the point 

The most basic choice of life is this make the effort to preserve something or let it die and marvel at its corpse …
Sometimes it is as simple as this. Sometimes a thing is beautiful and worth preserving regardless of its weight in gold.
Sometimes and a thing whatever its worth in currency is just not worth the sacrifice or resources it takes to keep it standing….

This is a choice we make every day. Sometimes its a simple choice sometimes tragic.

How does it apply to this city. There is an ugly beauty in this city _ a bright garish ruthlessness that somehow accepts everybody who has money to spend ….beautiful in its acceptance and ugly in the fact that it really just wants your money and will eat you alive if you stay to long after you have nothing to give or take.
Beautiful in the memories it can provide …ugly in the predators it attracts… Beautiful in the tiny bits of culture it preserves ugly in what it can bring out in people.

 

Thats life in the City of Sin

Love You Sinners

img_20190112_210316

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 ….

img_20190112_205328

A saying by Disturbed keep reading Sinners -Royal Hopper

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

IMG_20181224_160126.jpg

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 ….

IMG_20181204_114640.jpg
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

IMG_20181224_160136.jpg

IMG_20181002_170655.jpg

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

IMG_20181003_182721

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

 

zombie big screen

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

zombie screen stuff

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.