TITO, BOLO, Bar Flys and Gargantua parts the waves on a rainy day in the City of Sin

By Royal

Sometimes you don’t realize what an odd place you live in until one day it ceases to be odd for a few hours.
Those few hours didn’t come this week in the City of Sin. The city was just as full of weirdoes as it always has been even after most of the pool players in this year’s convention went home Saturday there was no shortage of Sin City eccentrics in the City of Sin.
Before they left;  at one pool table I saw a man with a red Mohawk at another a seven footer with a black shaggy beard down past his breast bone and long shaggy Rob Zombie hair down to his waist.
The sea of normal sized pool players driven inside by the “torrential rains” (please insert a snicker with a heavy Gulf Coast accent) parted in a wave as Gargantua strode down the middle of the group of billiard playing people.
Have you ever ran into someone who didn’t actually know why they had done something they were just following some inner voice that told them to say travel hundreds of miles and hang out in the desert for week.

A casino banner celebrating the past – Photo by Royal

Where am I
I ran into one such person this week and to make a long story short after determining they hadn’t come to Vegas for the pool tournament, to see family, for a vacation or for business and didn’t actually know why they were here, perhaps having seen to many late night crime dramas about serial killers with amnesia I excused myself and strode quickly away toward where more conventional weirdoes with multicolored hair and six inch heels were hanging out. 
This week I’d like to talk a little about the alphabet. When you work in a casino you are often bombarded by anagrams, abbreviations, and a laundry list of alphabetical shortcuts.


For instance do you know that if you have played slots in a Las Vegas area casino you have likely had a TITO in your hand, or rather a TITO ticket in your hand …Tito stands for ticket in ticket out you dirty minded devil you.
These days coin operated slot machines are rare in the City of Sin. When you put your cash in the slot machine you don’t get any money back. You get a ticket you can cash in at a machine or with a cage cashier.
If you work at one of these casinos you have probably been given a BOLO right in the brief…ing room. BOLO stands for be on the look out ….so if someone in a security outfit says BOLO a TITO thief,  there is no need to tighten or button up your blouse or stand in front of your girlfriend as you walk her across the casino ..they are just looking for a guy who steals slot tickets.
Also when someone gives you a comp there not giving you a computer or a composition notebook, they’re giving you a free buffet, in fact compensating you for something you have done usually for losing a lot of money to the casino.
This week I also saw a flyer for SIN. It has something to do with surveillance in casinos, imagine looking for SIN in Las Vegas …really. It’s kind of looking like sand in the desert.
Just ask the pair of six inch heel wearing, leather loving six foot tall working girls who were doing the best to look like wayward tourist as the plied their trade in leather, lace and heels.
It rained this week in the city of Sin. Not a lot, not much more than a summer shower by the standards of the Gulf Coast communities I grew up in, but by the way desert folks measure such stuff it was a storm to be reckoned with.

A distant hillside view of Las Vegas just as the rain hit the desert
by Royal Hopper

The rainy weather _  flash flood amateurs around here lost their minds. 
As we sat in our car Wednesday on a road in the boonies after our weekly hike waiting for a motorcade of important people to pass by so the state trooper blocking the road would let us pass rain began pelting the everything in site. You can always tell someone who has lived in the desert awhile when the rain starts hitting the ground they will be the ones who look like their cars are going to melt in the rain like a fairy tell witch or paper Mache’ Elvis statue. Others simply smile and take pictures of the lightning as people yell at them  to get out of the pool.

Lots of things happened in the city of sin this week. People were found sleeping in bathrooms, passed out in hallways, were caught soliciting each other for sex and lots of people wore ugly clothes and costumes. People wrecked wheelchairs into ceramic walls, and peed on floors in the bathroom….no seriously three feet from the urinal. They back packed, they stayed up for days slept just as long chased kids away from their free drinks and some just didn’t know why they had come to Las Vegas or what they were doing there.
Such is life and rain in the City of Sin
Until next time or whenever
Take Care

Driving in the rain in the desert is not a common thing but it does happen _ Photo by Royal

Jogger report: Joggers are slowly giving way to power walkers and backpackers. The look at me I’m beautiful and spend more on my shoes than you made last year runners are slowly being replaced by regular guy Happy Meal at MacDonalds power walkers and backpackers with cartoon characters on their back packs.

Pool Players, Bay Flys and costumes

By Royal Hopper

People tend not to change, at least on the inside. We are what we have always been we just dress better…sometimes.

 I saw an old man this week, an old  pool player to be precise, walking across a local casino with a bright orange and black case strapped across his back like an old friend, one he used to take Frank Sinatra shows.  He was probably dressed the same he had dressed most of his seven or eight decades and didn’t seem to care who noticed. 
Nearby was a man who didn’t’ seem to realize Woodstock was more than 40 years ago and yet another who seemed to be looking for the nearest Rat Pack hangout. Las Vegas was like a human timeline as 3,000 pool playing bar flys of the American Pool Playing Association descended on the City of Sin setting their inner children inner free in the smoky casino air of southern Nevada.
There is something in the Vegas atmosphere, something in air maybe or in the free drinks, canned music or gaudy architecture that brings that underlying inner child out into the open and lets it run free…free of social camouflage and unbidden uniforms. 

I took this in 2011

The Pool Players arrive
 Some of the pool playing bar flys spent their first night absolutely astounded. Apparently several City of Sin visitors were in fact sited laying on the ground with their well used shoes under their sleepy heads simply laying down where they stopped their Sin City travels to take a snooze.
They weren’t their long to be fair some of their pool playing comrades reported scooped them up and moved them along.
At practice tables set up for the pool players there were many players of all sorts, ages and kinds warming up for their coming tournament. There was one in particular that caught my attention. She was in language of the day one hot cougar. Of course that means she was likely at least ten years younger than me, but her considerable assets were drawing attention from all over the casino the tournament was being held in.  As it happens she was lining up a difficult shot as I was walking by `and my steady gaze in her direction clearly upset her male companion who was standing nearby.
Here the thing, he need not have worried and this will reveal the kind of geek I am, I was actually checking out the shot she was setting up.  I’ve never been much of a pool player and this Mama was running the table.

 One pool playing patron must have been a Pat Benetar fan because she still rock the 70s hairdo Pat perfected so many years ago you know in the 70s and the pool playing oldster with the Andrew Sisters hat (look it up) instantly got my respect just for having the courage or lack of concern to wear a red and white polka dot pin on 1940s style hat in 2012.

We all wear costumes, social camouflage, uniforms we are told grown ups put on when they leave behind the protected confines of youth and childhood. 
Don’t get me wrong the vast majority of people who come to Las Vegas are very ordinary and wear their ordinariness like a cheap suit.

They wear appropriateness like the social uniform it is. Many of them however take one breathe of the dry desert Sin City air and are suddenly whisked back in time to those halcyon daze ( and I say daze deliberately) when they weren’t respectable when they were a metal head, a hippe, a goat roper, a free spirit, a party girl or guy, to wear the uniform that makes them feel free. …yeah I know …whatever.
 The old man I saw walking across the casino that first day could have just been short of wardobe to change into. I believe he was wearing the same button up white shirt sleeves rolled up the wrist, his two piece custom pool cue carried in the same time worn orange and black nylon case he had likely worn for decades and sported the same lean, lost and hungry look he had worn in every pool hall his weathered frame had been in.  He was in his glory or perhaps just reliving it.

How do you tell the tourist from the locals
One sure way to tell a tourist from a Sin City regular is the way they talk. No it’s not an accent although the English gentleman who spent several minutes calling a security guard names that didn’t make anyone angry because no one knew what he was saying.
No it’s not the weird hats although it stands to reason the lady wearing the raccoon skin cap at a local casino was not a local herself.
It is in fact one singular phrase that will always give the non Sin Citiers away.
“They don’t have that where I come from,” or “ I’ve never seen that before,“ or even boy doggie people don’t sleep on the sidewalk where I grew up…   they say pointing at everything.

 Such is life in the City of Sin
Til next time or whenever

Take Care fellow Sinners

Jogger Report: This week the joggers were sadly normal.. There was one brightly dressed perfectly groomed runner clad head to toe in skimpy bright neon pink, and yellow. Then there was the jogger who jogged down the avenue stopping to take cheesecake pictures with his digital mini camera before jogging on down the avenue. Rock On City of Sinners Rock On. 

It is said that pool players don’t really need a bed or a blanket just pool table and a good pair odor eaters.
There’s only one thing I have to say about that…

                                                                                                 Im going to go

The Old Man visits Sin City or How would look with this as a oh just read it

By Royal Hopper

The Good Old Days of the City of Sin

My father is 76-years-old, has a bad back, is bald as onion (sorry Dad but you know its true) and walks with a cane because of his injured back. He came to Las Vegas this week to visit his oldest son and test his new system for winning at slots. 
Shortly after his arrival here in the City of Sin my old man was going about his City of Sin vacation business; ( I hate commas colons and exclamation points)  ( names and places have been changed to protect the innocent not really but I always wanted to say that)   perhaps headed toward one of the local casinos to test his system,  when he saw what he described as an unsavory character stalking him perhaps thinking he was vulnerable,  perhaps thinking he was an easy mark for asking for money. Wrong!!!!

What do you think my 76-year-old father did he saw an strange looking man approach him in a suspicious manner on a sidewalk near a local Vegas casino ?
There was something about this man that didn’t look right he said to me later as he was relating the tale. There was something that didn’t look right he thought as the man walked past him and then doubled back making a beeline straight for this helpless old man. (snicker inserted)
So what did my cane using 76-year-old father do when he saw this not looking right man walking toward him with a nefarious purpose in mind?

Did he call for help?? Did he scream for security from the nearby casino to help him??? Did he plead for his safety?? No don’t hurt me????”
 If you answered any  of the above you don’t know Dad very well. My 76-year-old Dad turned looked the man directly in the eye and asked

A bad photo of my Dad—Photo by Royal

him this.
“How do you think you would look with this cane shoved up your ass?” 
The man reportedly turned on his heel and walked away perhaps looking for easier less aggressive prey or perhaps deciding not to ask the grouchy old Texan where the nearest 7/11 was or perhaps making a mental note not to panhandle from 76-year-old Texans who fly out to Vegas alone to test his latest system for beating the slots in the City of Sin.

The Old Days.
Somehow seeing my father arriving back in the City of Sin and walking around the two of the City of Sin’s Grand Old gambling houses Bugsy’s baby The Flamingo and the Imperial Palace brought back memories of my initial arrival in the City of Sin in 1989.
Las Vegas was a very different back then and I was a very different person sort of. I was thinner, younger 30 pounds lighter and ex GI with no real experience outside of Port Neches, Texas.
While we were talking he bought me a $5 cup of coffee an $8 banana split and we talked about mundane things like $5 cups of coffee, $8 banana splits, his missing cat, the greedy idiot doctors who are treating his bad back and Vegas in the good old days when he first vacationed in the city of Sin in 1985 or so and the coffee was bad but cost less than piece of bubble gum. Actually he said 1983 but he also said it was when I was in the army which I joined 1985.

                Old meets new in the City of Sin suburbs _ Photo by Royal

On roads like Smoke Ranch that used to be the edge of town and  I once in late 1989 (when I first arrived in the City of Sin) had to sit in may car and wait for a group of coyotes to cross the street before doubling back to the turn off I had missed.

Food was so cheap in the city that I once bought $20 worth of Tejano style food from a local restaurant called Naugles and spent the next four days burping and farting like a factory after consuming the four bags of tacos, burritos, and assorted beans, tortillas and salsa. A three bedroom apartment could be had for $365 a month and you could drive across town in 40 minutes.
By comparison the City of Sin today is a crowded, expensive brightly colored mess. . There are houses and people everywhere.

Back then:
The Mirage was still an unfinished tower of gold and white, there were still half dollar breakfast buffets and free foot long hotdogs for out of towners, room comps still flowed like free beer and the ghost of Elvis and the Rat Pack  still hung over the dry desert landscape like a cheap two for one lounge act with a four drink minimum and a waiter that knows every working girl named after a farm animal for three blocks.  Children were seldom seen on The Strip. There was curfew for minors.

Today: Groups of Segways raced past one of a half dozen remaining Rat Pack casinos. There are kids everywhere,  cartoon characters on the sidewalk, joggers holding $5 cups of coffee and flavored water spiked with caffeine raced down the street in $500 neon Pink shoes, made in Taiwan, Bejing or some corporate sweat shop hell hole. ( I identify as an independent but it might be obvious by now I wouldn’t get an invite to an RNC meeting if I owned the building it was held in.)

Back then: You had to be practically deceased not to get job here. People routinely showed up for job interviews at banks in sweat shirts and gym shorts and were hired on the spot because money was falling out of the trees and employees were in short supply.
Half the city was open desert and you could drive across Las Vegas in 40 minutes. New casinos were being built by the dozen and old ones, the ones where Sammy Davis and Dean Martin and what’s his name Frank something and that Elvis guy rocked the house for decades were literally blown up to the cheers of on looking crowds.
At the Mirage’s second week in business or so a man won a jackpot and ran off with  cocktail waitress leaving his wife in the hotel room taking the plane tickets and the luggage.

Convenience stores are manned by people who used to where suits and the homeless who populate the city are some of the hardest working most innovative people in the City of Sin. Billion dollar casino that look like modern art projects sit half finished, desolate, rusting and dusty, a bust that stands as tribute to the hubris that created the boom and eventually caused the bust and  a contradiction of the idea that Alpha Dog optimism and will power can change the facts or the economic lay of the land which it can’t.

Food was cheap, rooms were cheap casinos were gaudy, smoky neon palaces where you dressed up to go to.

Today: Casinos have run out of themes and decided it is okay to look like office buildings and that themes are silly and childish and you can see burlesque clips on huge digital billboards.

Then: I was younger overawed by the City of Sin and the sights you would never see in Port Neches and likely never will. Well dressed working girls and soccer moms who look like sluts.

This week as I drove to work I spied a woman walking down an empty City of Sin street early in the morning dressed in a black evening dress that was designed to show off her tan, lean body. Appearing tired, world weary and unimpressed by the sights of the city as she walked down the empty street waiting patiently for the lights to change mentally armored against what she saw and like felt.
Was she a high class escort looking for end of the night escapade ??? A cocktail waitress at an exclusive club on her way home, a shift worker at x-rated night club headed home to honey and the kids. Who knows??
Down the road strode three women, younger much paler, not so well dressed, tidbits of baby fat still clinging to their young frames laughing as they made their way down the street clearly impressed with the neon sights and lights, strutting the strut of the innocent and young and headed toward adventures they will likely talk about for decades.

Some things do not change.
Such is life in the City of Sin
Til next week
Take care
Jogger report: The joggers were fewer and farther between this week perhaps driven off by the usual desert heat and the unusual desert humidity but back packs were more prevalent than usual. Thusly I have come up with a name for Sin City backpackers that keep popping up these days. Urban hikers. It seems like the perfect label for those who backpack around city streets carrying their water and lunch with them jumping onto to busses when the desert heat gets to be too much.

My father is also an animal lover now… later when he saw a man who in his words hadn’t missed many meals was asking for handouts with two starving dogs by his side he decided to do something.
My father went inside the nearby casino bough a hotdog broke it into and tossed it to the starving dogs.

Dude why are you F’n with me or Sin City archetypes

by Royal Hopper

People often reach a point in there lives where they are so low nothing phases them and I mean nothing.  Even being covered with bugs or dancing to the Bee Gees in a bikini in full view of men old enough to remember the Bee Gees doesn’t seem to phase these desperadoes.

Security guards at one local casino found woman lying in the bushes with beetles crawling over her. She was oblivious to the bugs crawling all over her and just wanted a convenient place to sleep it off. She was very annoyed when she was awakened by peopel who told her it wasn’t cool to sleep in shrubbery with bugs crawling all over your face.
“Why are you F****n with me,” she reportedly slurred as she was rousted from her bush and dirt covered bedding. The bugs were reportedly also very annoyed as they fell out of her hair onto the trash covered ground beneath her.
Now to this week’s theme _  Sin City archetypes. There are dozens of types and sub types of personalities that come to the city of sin. Most are harmless enough and that’s kind of the point.
You can always tell the tourist that come to the City of Sin from quiet, safe, protected conservative places. Here in the City of Sin the friendly fuzzy kittens of the world stand out like a working girl ( by that I mean a Ho) in a wedding chapel. In other words as the cliché goes they just fell off the turnip truck and it is not hard to tell.

There are three main kinds of  “I just got off the turnip truck tourists.’  The brave ones who just don’t understand how far over the heads they are about to be in deep, deep water and how dangerous it is for them once their toes don’t touch the bottom.
This group are like cute, ferocious little kittens hissing and fissing at an angry rooster 50 times their size looking almost cute as a a kitten as the rooster they plan on having for dinner prepares to smack them across their cute little faces and into the arms of several hungry Pit Bulls.
The “biker” I saw posing on Las Vegas boulevard was one of these. He rocked the look and his ride was fully dressed but when he stepped on the gas it didn’t roar like a Hogg or purr like a rice rocket _  it puttered like the scooter it actually was.

Then there are the frightened or over awed ones. This group does understand very well they are in over their heads and they broadcast it at a volume akin to an amp at a Metallica concert. ( I went to one in the 90s sat in the bleachers and was half deaf for three days)
This archetype is represented by the couple I saw walking across the casino this week. They were tiny, skinny over groomed people who looked like tiny walking business casual clothes mannequins were clearly out of their element and knew it.
They guy was average looking and the woman was Pixie-like  and gorgeous. The guy seemed somehow realize he was out of his league held onto his woman like she was a lamb surrounded by badly dressed wolves in baggy T-shirts and bright neon green running shoes, who would snatch her away and run of to the wilderness or the suburbs like Green Valley (same thing except with SUVs and gardeners ) which she kind of was and they kind of would.
One lady security guards walked out of the door at a local casino for panhandling was another. The guards looked bored more than anything else as they escorted this “residentially” challenged  rail thin, cigarette smoking, dry wrinkled sun raisin whose frazzled blonde, gray mop probably weighed more than the rest of her did.  They were surprised as much as anything when she suddenly jumped several feet in the air and sprinted out the door like the only rabbit in a room full of wolves on a meat only diet in the direction they were trying to get her to leave anyway.
Most numerous are the oblivious ones.
This archetype walks around like giant sized sheep eyes wide, wallets out smiling so broadly it seems they will almost crack their over groomed faces.
They are by far the most numerous Sin City archetypes and if you stand on The Strip on any given day you could almost hear them bleating like lost baby bovines as you walked through the casino straining to hear their bovine conversations over the mixture of Pop Music and 50s favorites playing on the PA right behind the acoustic version of “Staylin’ Alive”

They are the ones that look like little does staring at the headlights of huge pickup truck full of hunters bearing down on them on an empty highway.

They have that Hansel and Gretel aura about them, lost in the neon jungle and uncertain if the breadcrumbs they are leaving to find their way back to Kansas will be eaten by the strange man picking up cigarettes off the pavement and talking to unseen puppies named Dave as he searches the trash for half empty drink containers shaped liked guitars, miniature skyscrapers and martini glasses.
They are the ones you see moving in groups taking pictures of billboards and wearing I bought this T-shirt in Las Vegas T-Shirts. Think about it……think about it ….

Then of course there are the hedonist. They are the ones who discover that their particular poison is so easy to get in the City of Sin and so plentiful they tend to forget about everything else except getting the poison.
Beetle girl is one of those,  as is the man you see tip toeing to the news stands full of adds for naked women with a drink in each hand  the kind you get for free while gambling at any casino in town (incidentally do tip your waitress they get taxed for the drinks they serve you because it is assumed they get tipped.)
Later this archetype will likely be found unconscious in their room with an empty container of spiked champagne and a flyer with the name Bambi scrawled across the front of it or sleeping in a bush covered by beetles, or collapsed in the hallway in front of their room with their room key in their hand.
Lastly, there are the people who are taken in  by the very thing I have discussed in these columns before _  the wonderful apathy of the city of Sin.
Often they mistake the fact that people living and working here don’t’ care if they are kissing their poodle dressed like Elvis or kissing Elvis dressed like their poodle for adoration   Its not that they are fans although they may applaud and even tip you if you are entertaining enough

( and remember I said may tip)  if the show is good  they just don’t care enough about you being weird to stop you.

This week a young woman starting dancing to the ancient disco tunes wafting across the smoky air of the city. Perhaps encouraged by the people who were staring at her generous assets she began to dance wildly and soon encouraged others around her, including her intoxicated male escort  to also dance wildly. Several men about my age standing nearby started dancing in turn inciting a seven second orgy of demographically diverse disco dancing, complete with old ladies, middle aged fat guys, geeky toddlers et al. As someone who remembers the age of Disco I can tell you it was the most freakin nightmarish seven seconds in dance history.

Today the street was full of archetypes of every sort and many who didn’t belong to any archetype in particular. Two street people panhandling  regulars resumed their usual spot _  sitting down in front of a orange construction barrier near a fast food restaurant where people had to walk past them.
A man carrying an instrument case and wearing a large black hat and heavy denim in 105 degree heat sat on a oversized planter, an orange tag  hanging from his pocket, perhaps a musician dreaming of the glory days long past
Nearby two confused archetypal tourists stared  wide eyed  bleating quietly to each other as they stared around the city and one young man with hair down to his waist leaned against a concrete barrier texting to friends perhaps and perhaps admitting to himself what his archetype usually realizes right away….”What the hell was I thinking ?”

Such is life in the city of Sin
Rock on fellow Sinners
Take care

Just because its cool and yes I took this photo too–Royal


Jogger/pedestrian report: The weather is cooling down here in Nevada…well no not really. It’s freakin hot and groups of body builders for whatever reason have taken to walking down the street during the hottest part of the day sans shirts which really annoys all the rest of us by setting standards that are unfair and unobtainable…….