This City has a problem with pigeons .. There is nothing worse than a bird who forgets to fly and gets in the way of your moving forward. The pigeons here have gotten lazy and crazy and have forgotten they can fly at will. Not the brightest of bird to begin with these rats with wings have recently exhibited behavior that is stupid even by bird standards some even seem to forget they can fly. This is the second time I remember seeing this which begs the question ..How many pigeons does it take to cross the street ???

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You have to admire the simplicity of you are and advertising it _ Royal Hopper

The difficulty of crossing the road with wings

by Royal Hopper

You approach a Sin City intersection in your burgundy dust covered proletariat chariot on the way to work and cannot help but notice a group of pigeons huddled in the turn lane to your left trying to cross the sun baked dusty asphalt like tiny little pedestrians waiting for the Go sign to light up.

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No Bob this is where we are having today’s meeting. Oh just leave the chair –Royal Hopper

One pigeon looks particularly vexed bobbing his tiny little pigeon head his tiny pigeon brain all but overloaded at the decision of which way to turn its tiny pigeon body. One moment in darts forward and left only to be cut off by cars turning the other direction in the four way intersection. The next moment it turns on its heels like a soldier in a parade stepping with purpose toward the imagined safety of its starting point only to be cut off by cars in the turn lane to your immediate left.
After ten or fifteen quick trips to the left and an equal number to the right most of the pigeons decide they have had enough. As if a light goes off in the tiny pigeon brains some suddenly realize they can fly and take a running leap at the relative safety of the raised concrete median in the center of the road ..Three quick flap pf he wings and they are resting in the median in the center of the road planning their trip and a way around the scary scary scary Sin City traffic monsters.

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This bird remembers how to fly – Royal Hopper

A few more of the more daring pigeons realize they can fly for long distances and rise up in the air flapping their wings like mad and landing in a small triumphant pile on the other side of the road some roosting on a sign some on the concrete others diving into the dusty dirt just beyond the concrete sidewalk . A few are roosting on the far side of he sidewalk to your right refusing to move forward perhaps fearing it is simply not worth the trouble. Those pigeons in the middle seem content to stay there and as you are pulling away toward you r mortgage paying endeavor the pigeons who have moved on get tired of waiting and fly off toward new and hopefully greener sidewalks… There are no pastures in the City of Sin just sand, neon and sidewalks and asphalt. .

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Mr. confused pigeon is still confused as the light in your lane changes and experience and the left side of your brain urges you to take your foot off the brake and move on he is still going back and fourth unable to make up his mind up. Afraid to walk forward unable to go back and apparently he has forgotten he fly.  Perhaps he has forgotten how to try and is so busy deciding on a left turn or a right turn he is stuck in a never ending loop..perhaps but whatever the case he was still stuck in traffic a moment from being squashed and still would not take to the wing and fly forward.

The moral

The answer is they don’t their birds they can fly over it. Those who can fly (birds, people and countries) and move forward remember how to move on and forward and remember how to try generally do.

It is the way of things here. It’s is life in the City of Sin

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army vet begging

Same song second verse. A sign holder at Russell and Boulder – Royal Hopper

It goes without saying that Las Vegas is a green town …. Not the Green Party kind of green or the Avacado kind of green or the gently rolling hills covered with grass kind of green.
Its about pursuit of the kind of green you keep folded up in your wallet ..The kind you use to buy new Mercedes and trips to Hawaii ..The kind you use to pay your mortgage and buy groceries … Its all about the green baby. Except when it isn’t..

The Intensity of Humanity in the City of Sin or a Drive in the Suburbs

The Mercedes Man and the POS Chevy.. Denim Mom meet in the middle

by Royal Hopper 

 

You can make the most intense of discoveries from the oddest most common of things in this city. Its funny how the patterns start to repeat themselves when you really look. Just the things people do on the way to their cars can tell you a lot about them
For starters you when you see two drivers one approaching a fully decked Mercedes next to a junked out Chevy held together by wires and hope.
You drive by barely noticing ..anything really. It is the way of the city. All things fade into the background as you drive. You focus on the traffic on the lights on the police cars cataloging each thing assessing its significance and then forgetting it as you pass. It is the urban way of life _ a way yo keep the myriad of ordinary sights and sounds from overwhelming your worried mind.

old guy staring out at crosswalk

An old guy on a scooter – Royal Hopper

Then a problem causes the traffic to halt and amid the torrent of muffled curses and people staring at watches and calcualting the delay you sigh and huff and look over to your right seeking a way out of the jam… a parking lot short cut to a side street maybw.
You find youself staring at the parking lot with academic intensity hoping for a way around the mass of metal, plastic and humanity stalled on the Sin City street. Theres no real hurry really. There is plenty of time to get where you are going but you dont want to wait. It is the Sin City attitude ..the way of the city. Even if all you are going to do is eat a sandwich in a restaurant you don want to wsit an extra five minutes to do it …screw that.
For some reason as you scan the large parking lot of a way around the jam you notice two cars parked next to each and catch your eye as the drivers approach.guy listeningand staring out

The Cars

One is a Mercedes spotless and perfect ..brand new and humming with status and disposable income. The other is an old Chevy. You can tell because the company logo is visible but all other signs of the car’s origins are obscured by dust, dirt and past accident damage. The paint has faded and the plastic cracked with visible dings all over its utilitarian get me to the market and the job surface.
The traffic comes to complete stop and every channel on the radio you like is playing crap songs for some reason So You return to staring at the cars. After awhile the Chevy’s driver an attractive in a girl with kind eyes kind of way walks up the the car decked out in last year’s denim and a host of free promotional give aways..You guess she is a Mom by her figure and the assorted worn out stuffed animals in her worn out Chevrolet chariot of domesticity.

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So Veg AS strong ….Royal Hopper

You instantly have empathy for her amd realioze few likely would a kindred spirit perhaps a fellew outsiders dealing with the world as best she can.
She spots you staring at her and doesn the oddest thing ..She doent cringe or frown and flip you the bird she smiles and waves at you with a familar smile. Not knowing what elese to do you wave back at her slightly and manage a small smile. She has decided you are not dangerous and apparfently feels flattered that you are staring at her in her Mom jeans and free give away shirt and jacket. She even surprises you by turning her hips a little toward you so you can get a better glimpse and what she figures you are staring at which makes you smile even more. She seems to be happy someone was staring at he behind as she figures you were doing.

gir striding in parking lot

Hey Dude – Royal Hopper

You see people desperate for something to do bored by life and plenty and desperate for recognition
Then as if by some divinely ridiculous sitcom script planning the driver of the Mercedes stumbles out to his $100,000 monument to excess and glares at the woman as he fumbles for his keys. Your not sure what his issue is but he looks wierd in that Sin City weird rich guy kind of way.
Denim Mom looks back nervously at Mercedes man breaking the spell between you and the woman clad in Mom denim and give away shirts and jackets…She knows him from somewhere and isnt happy to see him.
Mercedes man stares at her and takes a few steps toward her. It is impossible to tell what he wanted but the glare in his eyes and frown on his face dont speak well for the ending to this tense standoff. The intentions could have been harmless but Denim Mom was not happy about his approach and looks over at you for a moment before beginning to fumble for something in her front seat which she had patially opened. Perhaps it is a can of pepper spray or a pipe or a loud speaker. Who knows in this city. She could have a .45 stuffed under the seat. girl staring.JPG
While part of you Wants to defuse the situation your Sin City survival instincts are screaming stay out of it.. In a sudden burst of inspiration you pop your horn a little. Not a huge blast just a little hey girl whats up with you kind of thing and you wave again this time big enough for both to see ..and say ..”Hey whats up,.” Neither probably heard your words but they both look up at you.
The man glares at your travel worn pick up truck with the support the troops magnet on the back and then at you like an Doberman or a scrawny looking wolf staring at the sheepdog wondering if the shepherd and his horse is nearby.

With practiced Sin City Security guard style and bluff you just stare back and smile slightly before turning back to the woman and waving your hand again and unbuckling your seat belt a little just in case you have to open the door for her to climb in or grab the pipe behind your seat.

For what seems like 10 minute but was probably a few seconds ..You all stand there staring at each other. Then Mercedes Man gets bored or worried or both rolls his eyes and gets in his car pulling away his $1,000 a piece tires screaming with the effort and leaving a smoke trail of synthetic rubber and expensive Brazilian reefer (I don’t actually know what kind of weed it was but it sounded good)
Denim Mom waves at you again this time with a smile of genuine warmth and gratitude ….then gets back in her tired old proletariat chariot and turns on the ignition of its tired worn out engine.
As the old Chevrolet rumbles to life straining with age and long needed repairs as it pulls away out of the parking lot, as if by the same almost comic B Movie timing the traffic begins to clear up. You replace your seat belt turn your eyes back to the street wondering if you would have actually had the guts to smack the Mercedes man …then you the music up on your favorite Metal Station and move on toward your destination fading back in the neon jungle just as quickly as for that one brief moment you exited it and became a person interacting with another person.sreet scape.JPG

You see many extremes in this city ..You see obscene wealth that spends hundreds on a sandwich and a cup of tea and makes sure everyone knows it . You see hand to mouth poverty where every dollar earned is dedicated to survival or placating whatever demon or angel you have managed to acquire in your travels …You see $500 a pop slot machines and $ 1 beer and hot dogs.
The obsession with that feeling of winning the big hand of filling the inside straight ..of chasing that empty feeling of arbitrary triumph, the false notion that being wealthy or being good at football or hustling somehow makes you more important in the cosmic scheme of reality than the person who is struggling to pay the bills and hold themselves up with some dignity … It is as potent as any drug ever made. It fills the night sky in this city. It is in the air and water and make no mistake about it in the end you are both just specks in the dust storm….Gotta stop watching dystopian sci fi before bed .
That is life, love and karma in the City of Sin.
May the muse bless your waking and dreaming hours and may your demons stay silent and your angels sing like a stack of four story amps at a grand metal reunion.
Love You Sinners

billboard couple (2)

Why do all the billboards in the suburbs look like they were made in 1958 – Royal Hopper

There are rules in the City of Sin

 

By Royal Hopper 

 

It is a scene that has played out many many many times in the 80 something years in the history of legal gambling houses in the City of Sin. A man stands up and stumbles toward the elevator with much younger woman in his arm. He is ordinary looking older and clearly not a local a “Sinner” and she is clearly a player who knows the ins and outs of Sin City …

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The art of waiting at crosswalks _ Royal Hopper

You want to scream dude seriously she not into you …your going to get rolled …She’s a pro dude…but you dont .. He wouldnt believe you anyway ..They never do ….
You walk down the hallway of any major hotel and you see Doors propped open with no sign of the occupants anywhere .. a man steps out of the elevator and looks around and sees the security officer strolling down the hallway on his nightly patrols he looks down the hall to man standing at a door his hand on the door presumably a friend. They turn quickly as the property order keeper turns toward resting one hand on his radio. Were they lovers not wanting anyone to know about their affair?,,,,,More than likely they were what Vegas calls door pushers looking for open doors to push open so they could steal the contents of the rooms.


In the casino you see a man at a slot machine staring in disbelief at the slot machine that just took his money. My system should have worked he mutters forgetting the Vegas reply to people with systems ..”Come in sit down …lets gamble ..” They seldom work.

The thing about Vegas is there are rules . A hot woman who is really into you when you re well past your prime and not rich is probably a Prostitute and when she asks you to take a shower before your date or offers you a glass of strange tasing rufied champagne..your stuff will be gone when you get back or wake up.
Rule 1 shes not that into you dude seriously


Rule 2: Close your door when you leave or got to sleep. If someone sneaks into your room and takes your stuff because you left the door open ..ITS YOUR FAULT
Rule 3: The odds always favor the house _ always. Most gambling systems dont work. Make a budget and when its gone stop gambling you idiot. Unless you are some kind of mathematical genius and can count cards without being caught you …
Rule 4. Dont do anything in Sin City you dont want people to know. In a world where four year olds have cell phones what happens in Vegas will probably be on the internet a hour later.
Rule 5. In the summer time drink water or gatorade not beer if you are going outside for any length of time.It is hot and dry in the desert and you will dehydrate in minutes.

If you wallet is light
dont party here at night
if your skin is thin
if you offended by gin
dont come here at all
or fall ssleep in a stall
mind all you stuff
know when to say enough

the city aint nice
you will pay the price
for not knowing rules
for acting the fool
Listen my friend
Let Me say it again
and again and again and again
this aint feaking iowa
Its the City of Sin

sunset with Man Bay in background

Sometimes this City looks like a beautiful B movie sunset – Royal Hopper

 

 

 

 

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This little fellow was spotted lying in the road in Oatman Arizona a little over a month ago…Royal Hopper

The Art of Not Giving a Crap

There are many kinds of not giving a crap. Lets look at two and then describe and admit which one you are
by Royal Hopper

 

You see a man sitting in the dirt near a drainage ditch ..devoid of other potential for use just sitting there eating his lunch in the dirt ..
He is ragged but not dirty or worn down and nibbles his food step by step moving without thought or savoring of the victuals. He remembers how to eat of course but there is no joy just necessity of maintaining his metabolic processes .
Another man sits atop his scooter ..wheelchair bound and octogenarian, sweating like a basketball team and exhausted he stops his pin sized go cart for a moment takes a deep breath and brushes his hair back from his obviously dyed black hair from his eyes. He boasts an Elvis hairdo dyed Barbi Doll black and doent care what anybody thinks about it.


Back at the dirty dusty drainage construction site the lunch eating man must know he is being watched but if he cares he doesnt show it. Sitting in his isolated spot behind a tangled wire fence in the dirt near a ditch occassionally pushing back his red non descript ball cap enough to push the substance into his mouth he lays in the dirt and eats ..screw what anybody thinks.
You see that a lot these days ..In the city ..in the country elsewhere sometimes people are just surviving not really living ,,in short they just don’t give a crap anymore. They are going to do what they do and screw you if you don’t like it…or think its silly.
The Elvis hairdo guy stands out even in a town haunted by the ghost of Elvis Presley 40 years after his untimely demise. His face is wrinkled and lined, his over weight frame bent by age and disability and his skin sallow but his hair is bright black and has that 50s Rebel flare. He looks like someone has painted a cartoon wig on a real person.


He manages a smile, catches his breath and guns the accelerator on his motorized scooter dissapearing into the crowd of Sin City revelers. At this point in his life he is going to do what he is going to do …catoon Elvis wig and all …You have to respect that a little. Flipping the bird at conformity and letting your freak flag fly is the Sin City way.
Back at the curb in the dirt whoever he is ..a homeless man with access to clean clothes or some guy working a shit job he has to get away from the man clearly has a serious case of I don’t give a crap anymore …


He doesnt really appear to enjoy the food he shovels mechanically into his mouth. He just knows he has to eat. There is no joy that can be seen…no real emotion. Both of these men are prime examples of the not giving a crap class of people in this city.
One where you just fade into the background and ignore the world and one where you express your inner self and don’t care what people think about it. Many of us aspire to be one of those things and end up being the other. This city is as a line from a comic book I read is championed not by the barons and bankers that run it ,,but by the wayward outcast children that populate its many dusty , neon lit corners, gambling parlors, street corners, shopping malls and cafes.
They are a fundamental aspect of life in the City of Sin.
Love You Sinners

 …Politics and religion were a forbidden subject at a recent family get together. Two vegetarians, two liberals, four conservatives two of them deeply religious and a true neutral who doesn’t discuss politics got together to have dinner talk about old times. The following is a allegorical explanation of a simple family event . For the record we laughed, we joked, we feasted. Its what happens in real life when you don’t let BS get in the way. 

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Took this at the Golden Nugget Hotel/Casino in Lake Charles, La. ..Every city has its monsters –Royal Hopper

Coincidental Serendipity or The Great Divide

by Royal Hopper

You land on the ground after an annoyingly long but relatively smooth flight and step out of the metal tube that has borne you through the air 1,500 miles from your adopted city in the desert to the land of your birth and the feeling of the thick moist air hits you in the face like a blast from the past.
It is the opposite of the dry sun baked sand and car exhaust smell of your adopted city in the desert. It smells like benzene, oil refineries and mold and tons of vegetation rotting in corners mixed with the usual sites and sounds of life usually inspired by humidity and an excess of water and warmth.

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The people in the air terminal seem a bit unnerved by the crowd of strangers like intelligent cattle wandering through strange pastures occassionally mooing their unease. Others brashly confident stroll through the crowd of people seeming to paint a sign on their foreheads that read sucker in bright red letters. Mostly they are just walking straight ahead not making eye contact for fear of summoning some predator lurking around the corner.
To you it is all old hat. You are from the City of Sin…you are a Sinner and crowds like this are just another Sunday or Tuesday or Thursday and these guys aren’t even drunk.

First person

As you may have guessed from the film Noir opening My wife and I flew to Texas to visit family and celebrate a belated Holiday season and reconnect with family members who still live far to the east.
After a long flight to Houston and retrieving we got out of the City in our rented Hyundai we stopped for supper/breakfast . I don’t remember what we ate but I do remember seeing flashing lights attached to a police cruiser of some type tearing down the interstate and shrugging my shoulders slightly. It was easy to tell the city dwellers from the tourists who looked out at the lights with concern. I shrugged and went back to eating. My wife who is much less cynical than I am didn’t seem to notice at all.
That is what happens when you live in the city especially in the City of Sin. It is hard to freak you and out as long as the lights are pointed at someone else you don’t sweat it. We headed out of the city across the East Texas countryside passing through Beaumont and then southern Jefferson County where I was born and through Orange County where my brief sojourn as a journalist took place and arrived at my sisters place in Louisiana.
I was very happy to see my sister and the house was a beauty well maintained and large enough for a family get together for a large family.
The air was thicker than I was used to and made breathing a chore sometimes and honestly when the wind blew from a certain direction it stank like smog and swamp grass and oil refinery smoke stacks….but the company made was wonderful. The jokes were corny and the stories were kind of true.
As you can probably tell I am a frustrated writer. So in the interest of equal treatment before I tell you about the ton of turkey and ham we consumed. Here is an allegorical explanation of the difference something I wrote about SE Texas on my less cynical days. This is SE Texas and SW Louisiana.

It a quiet night/dusk; “………………….. The man called Renegade said quickly losing himself in the memories he was invoking…….”It was sultry, warm and moist.
It was the kind of night you might expect to see in a Faulkner novel, warm and wet enough that you can feel it when you breath but not so much that it makes you sticky and uncomfortable. The kind of late spring night you can only find in Southeast Texas . The kind that comes between the cold snaps and the heat of summer when the weather is warm and the smell of dead grass mixes with the green resin of the pine trees and a bouquet of innumerable, indestructible and unidentifiable weeds that cover the East Texas countryside during numerous false springs. It was the kind of night that made you glad that large parts of Texas were still hopelessly rural.
Its the kind of night when in between whiffs of poison from the refineries the whole world smells and looks …well alive…….
That is the spring .. the moment of glory for that part of the country. The winter is wet cold and smells the same without benefit of the green growing plants to lessen the blow and the summer is humid furnace with swarms of mosquitoes and the occasional alligator.
I also once toyed with the idea of writing a post apocalyptic Las Vegas story. I described the Vegas of this dystopia as looking like a giant neon dragon had crashed to earth leaving its brightly colored scales scattered across the landscape with spots of decadence scattered amid the destruction..with some people still holding signs, some still spending way more than they should on things they don’t need. The city is the same ..It just changed outfits

Vegas is a huge machine covered with bright colors..each casino a small town with its own bureaucracy…its own order keepers, bars, theaters, stores and cafes.

The feast .. Back to the vacation….

We spent the week hugging people and eating lots of greasy southern food.. We had ham and turkey …two kinds of cabbage one vegetarian and one traditional and two kinds of corn bread one of them vegetarian. I was secretly glad when my vegetarian nephew and his girl showed up ..so there was some healthier food to dine on and managed to gracefully decline the donuts and Kolaches .. offered for breakfast the next day .. For those who don’t know what a Kolache is. It a half pound of white dough wrapped around a piece of southern sausage…..stop laughing …..no seriously stop laughing
The ban worked …No politics or religion was discussed and the week played out peacefully. We all gained two or three pounds from the southern cuisine we consumed and hugged each other as we left for our individual destinations.
Then it was time to go home and go back to work and pay the bills
That is life in the City of Sin
Love You Sinners

Instead of the usual run down of events of the previous year I want to tell you about a woman determined to live a little …to have fun no matter her condition in life, age or health. It uplifted me a little and I hope it will you …IMG_3936.JPG

To not sit at alone home on New Years Eve and the defeat of time for a day

By Royal Hopper

New Years Eve I came across a woman in a wheelchair playing a slot machine with all the intensity her aged bent frame could muster. Her fingers were bent into a permanent gnarled cup by years of a fighting losing battle with arthritis.
But there was a determined scowl ..one always worn and boasted by recreational gamblers as they endeavored to crack the secret of the slot machine with various methods and systems that never work.
She managed smile as she pulled a small wad of money from a paper envelope with great effort. Hitting the button of the slot machine with her cane held in her gnarled mitt of a hand she asked for help moving her wheelchair and the chairs in front of the machines around so she could play two of them at once.IMG_3947.JPG

The man many years younger though not young by most standards moves the chairs around and pushes the wheelchair to the machine she desires and she raises her cane to hot another button on the one armed bandit …another chances at riches and bragging rights…
“I just wasnt going to sit at home,” she said later managing a smile again _ “on New Years Eve..” This one was going to live on her own terms right to the end. She could barely sit up straight while she hit the buttons of the slot machine …sitting alone as the younger men and women around her indulged in that most decandent of holidays..Her clothes are older rumpled but she sits proud and unapolagetic if a little sad and lonely…
“I won two hundred dollars on this one,” she says pointing at one of the machines, “I spent three hundred so I lost $100 she said wrinkling her brow at the effort of the calculation.
Someone offers that that is not bad for a New Years Eve in Las Vegas says a casino passing by as he raises his hand in tghe air and says “high five” She smiles and raises her arthtitic apendage to greet the high five.
“My hands are not what they used to be,” she said stoping for a moment for a reaction. the man holds up his somewhat younger middle aged hand which boasts a few barely visible gray hairs and says ..”My hands arent exactly what they used to be ..no ones hands are ..”

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Two women waiting at a bus stop _Royal Hopper

“Did you have fun?” he asked. She shook her head affirmative. “That’s what counts ….have a great night…”
That seems to please her and she turns back to the machine as the man pressed by other duties goes back to his work adjusting his polyester uniform and heavy duty belt as he walks …”Happy New Year,” they both mutter as they part ways to their individual worlds…For one day _ one moment Father Time was defeated

I didn’t know her but I was proud of her courage and determination to live whatever life she had left and not sit alone at home

..and sometimes that too is life in the City of Sin ….

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There is a street preacher who hangs out on Vegas streets and lets his signs speak for him. I’m not terribly religious but you cant talk about the City of Sin without mentioning the other side – Royal Hopper

Love You Sinners

 

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Christmas in the City of Sin

 

by Royal Hopper 

The Turkey was cooking and the ham nearly done IMG_20171203_214719.jpg
the dogs were all barking and ready for fun
We were just sitting down to eat all the food
when on the TV News 8 came a strange looking dude
He was walking down the street with his eyes all aglow
on his white beard and shoulders something like snow
His hair was all dyed and his nose not really real
and I knew in a moment he was too drunk to feel
surrounded by cops who looked none to pleased
he complained and complained about the drugs they had seized
The cops glowered at him and shouted put your boots on
and he smiled and glowered back just like Wayne Newton
he turned and he said to invisible friends
on Neon, on Poker, on Bacarat and Beers
on B girl and Cocaine he said patting invisible rears
hey there Blacjack and Jackpot so dear
Lets giddy up go and get up out of here
The cops for their parts stepped forward with cuffsIMG_20171203_214004.jpg
Fake Santa did struggle but the cops were all buff
Merry Christmas all fake Santa said cuffed to the rail
as a buddy nearby called friends for bail
and to all a good night a good night as they hauled him to jail
as he left he sang a song like he was casting a spell
Merry Christmas Merry Christmas he said again what a pity
Arrested on Christmas Day in jail in Sin City
Where does it end ..where to begin
It aint funny or or sad just Christmas in the City of Sin

 

Love You Sinners
Merry Christmas again from the City of SinIMG_20171127_160923.jpgIMG_20171128_135052.jpg

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Random Christmas Decorations from a random event 

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