Rolling Your Eyes at The World

By Royal Hopper

Today as I drove down Las Vegas boulevard toward a busy intersection with a green light past the “butterfly woman” three men handing out flyers and a family dressed like Sponge Bob I spotted a fellow Sinner (Las Vegan). This tan, dusky beauty princess was waiting for the light to change in all her severely cut polyester uniformed glory so she could cross the street a block or so down the road.

I was peopled out for the day just trying to get home.

My sign is better than your sign. My sign is better than yours _ Photo Royal Hopper

As the light turned yellow and  I coasted past a costumed poser _ a stilt wearing Uncle Sam decked out in red white and blue the Sinner waiting to cross the street stepped forward to make her way toward the other side of the street.
As the light began to turn red I idled past the squads of identically clad tour group tourists snapping photos like their lives depended on it and began pulling to stop toward a now red traffic light.
The Sinner, this fellow Las Vegan and I made eye contact right as she was being “assaulted” by the hordes of photo taking tourists trying to include her in their pictures. (Okay I may have done it once or twice). One of them stumbled into the street causing a taxi to swerve into my lane of travel. “Damn.,” I said to no one in particular mostly because I was alone in the car and it would have been weird to talk to people who weren‘t there. ( Isnt that right Beauregard. Everybody meet my imaginary friend Beauregard. Don’t take offense she‘s shy)

Hey dude your tie is crooked oh wait that’s not your tie _ Photo by Royal

The Sinner stepped off the median to get away from the hordes of tourists but had to jump back as a car with out of state plates ignored the turning light and pedestrian crosswalk shouting woohoooo as they barreled through  the intersection one of them shouting hey ass**** as they did so. We exchanged glances again as, like locals tend to do, she stared down a potential panhandler who was approaching her and did I when he stepped into the street to approach my car.
Our eyes met, this Sinner and I, right as a driver of a car in front of me in the turn lane to my left bolted out of his lane honked its horn and cursed at me for interfering with his illegal lane change by you know not doing anything illegal.
With seconds remaining in her cross the street signal she started out onto the pedestrian crosswalk only to be stopped by Las Vegas PD (We just call them Metro) barreling after the idiot who ran the red light.

What does this mean to you _ Photo by Royal Hopper

Finally the traffic light turned green and I began to idle forward toward the turn down the road that led to my south Las Vegas home exchanged looks of mutual disgust at our fellow humans. We both rolled our eyes at the antics of the normal humans infesting our belovedly strange city and frustrating our attempts to go home with their attempts to be spoon fed, crazy, naïve and all around clueless.
She smiled and giggled a little as I made faces at the lounging tourist around her and for a moment we were fellow travelers besieged by shuffling masses who helped pay our wages. We both shrugged and she managed a half wave as the light began to change yellow again as I stepped on the accelerator and headed toward home.   The shrug was a way of saying oh well what can you do followed by the head shake of fellow travelers
It had been a busy week in Sin City.

A regular denizen of Sin City sits on the ground and plays for passersby _ Photo by Royal Hopper

The city was full of the usual suspects_  conventioneers, young people spending money they didn’t have, and old people pretending to be young. There were chicks named Ashley asking directions to the outlet Mall ( Like can you tell me where the like Mall is …like)  and someone who walked around dressed like a pumpkin because you know she could.
Such is life in the City of Sin
Take care Sinners
Until next meet and roll our eyes at the world again. 

Blues Brothers statues at the Classic Car Collection at The Quad _ Photo by Royal Hopper

The Chicken Nugget Paradigm..I’m in an allegorical mood

By Royal Hopper

This week while I was gobbling down my third box of chicken nuggets in a City of Sin MacDonald’s I was overcome with memory and a terrible sense of guilt.

As I opened my second and third tiny box of ranch dressing to dip my chucks of fried ground chicken in I remembered an old acquaintance. This acquaintance,  a portly fellow  gamer would order two large pizzas for lunch and consume them all by himself. Perhaps out of a sense of restraint he would always order a diet soda to go with his to large pizzas.

A sidewalk painter takes in the day on Las Vegas Boulevard late last week _ Photo by Royal HopperHe always perhaps to console his otherwise logical conscience,  by ordered a diet coke to go with the two 32 ounce disks of sausage and textured vegetable protein covered bread.

Its kind of like the people at one Sin City casino who raised hell about not being able to get their fourth or fifth alcoholic drink in the giant novelty cowboy boot made with diet coke instead maple syrup like the recipe says. Using diet coke in your mixed drink apparently means everything.
..It is kind of like the man who was kicked out of a casino for panhandling enough to make bets on horse races and later bragged he had gotten a job at 76-years-of age so he could make bets on horse races.
I would not be like that, like those people I swore to myself I was going to do something different.

So with the reflected neon glory of Sin City pulsing in the distance I pushed my fried chicken chunks aside with a flourish stalked to the order window …….and boldly ordered a side salad.

A sidewalk musician wows the crowd of four listening to him play last week on a City of Sin sidewalk _ Photo by Royal

“Everything is okay now I thought as poured my lite ranch dressing over my meatless side salad and then …..wait for it ….broke my remaining chicken nuggets into pieces and scattered them across the top of my side salad. “It’s healthy’s a salad,”  I thought as I gobbled the nugget encrusted lettuce down with relish.

Think about it. the sign says The #1 gaming in town next to Food For Less _ Photo by Royal Hopper

Don’t get me wrong. I love this city. In spite of all the blows it has dealt me over the years. In spite of all its numerous and desperate flaws, not the least of which is all the overage paunchy Elvi that appear on the city streets from time to time. I love this F’n city. Cartoon characters, signs holding panhandlers, hordes of photo taking tourists, drunken frat aholes, grumbling I miss the old days elder tourists and all. I love it.

I even love the street musician who mangled Jail House Rock so badly even he cringed every third chord. The look of shock on his face when a passing tourist threw a dollar at his feet.
That being said there is one great flaw in the culture of this city_ one great contradiction that is hard to ignore.
One of the great contradictions of Las Vegas’ City of Sin culture is that doing one smart and/or virtuous thing somehow justifies days or gallons or thousands of dollars of decadence or stupidity.

I have a question for all you gambling nuts, junk food junkies, lapsed health food nuts and  week end decadence rationalizers.

Las Vegas has never lied about who it is and why it exists. Just ask the Elvis twins and their side kick the giant blue midget.

Does eating a $1.00 side salad justify stuffing yourself silly with box after box of chicken nuggets ? Does any of this it really matter in the long run ? …and what is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow? As the Electric Poet himself is reputed to have said….
Regardless  of why you ride the snake ..If you are going to ride the snake for miles without regret and then do not bother complaining about the scales scratching your butt. You can  comfort yourself by dismounting and walking the last three blocks I suppose but why bother In the End It will not make any difference?

That’s life in the City of Sin
Take care Fellow Sinners

Loyalty, Purpose, Puppies and Pepsi In the City of Sin : October 2013

A Sin City Juggler practices during a break_ Photo by Royal Hopper

Loyalty, Purpose, Puppies and Pepsi In the City of Sin

By Royal Hopper

A man sat on the corner on Las Vegas Boulevard with a sign that caught my eye. I couldn’t read it all from the angle I spotted it before the light turned but it said something to the effect .. “Somebody kidnapped my weed connection so I need shitloads of cash…
Down the road a woman sports a T-shirt that reads ..”yeah he’s ugly but the sex is great…” and in yet another part of the Strip a cartoon character splits his tips with another.

A sign holder in Sin City asks for money to save his weed connection _ Photo by Royal Hopper

Loyalty matters even in small doses and what you are loyal to matters.
There is an older couple that goes to a restaurant my wife and I go to. The woman, and I say this with the greatest respect seems to barely know where she is. The man sees nothing but her. The love and loyalty in his eyes is obvious. You know kind of like the look you see in certain pop singers when they look in the mirror or the man in the Dodgers hat looks at his dog when he is asking for spare change or digging in the trash or the look one well dressed tourist gave to an empty chair. (I’m actually not sure why he did that but it sounded cool)  You have to be pretty cold to look at loyalty like that and not at least notice. …..

Purpose matters too.
In this city it is very rare to see someone walking around truly without purpose. Even if that purpose is just to take a cheesy photo of a clown statue with your crowd of intoxicated work friends dressed in your Sons of Anarchy T-shirts you bought at Macy’s you have a purpose. Even if you are so desperate for a woman’s attention you pick up a hooker in a stairwell near a video arcade ( notice I said near a stairwell not in it) you have a purpose. When your bare it all doing the deed dozens of feet from maw and paw kettle just in from Kansas to experience the Sin City story in person you have a purpose……a  sad juvenile, unhealthy purpose but a purpose none the less.

Both these stories are part of the Sin City culture. We Sinners like people to believe we live in a place without purpose or established loyalties but it is not true.

The imagined lack of purpose and agenda is one of Sin City’s greatest illusions and greatest selling points..

Two Sin City street characters prepare for the lunch rush on a Sin City afternoon _ Photo by Royal

(Cue the film clips of the villain in Matrix lecturing ominously about purpose driving us)

The city without purpose is a place you come to forget everything and party your ass off. Do you see the irony there ??

That very function is a purpose in an of itself. Las Vegas is a place dedicated to purpose. The people who work there want to pay the rent, to have a retirement fund, and pay the bills….to buy a boat, good shoes, to flip the bird at the world, to prove they are the greatest at something, to get drunk enough to forget they are bald and on and on and on.

You see a lot of decadent agendas in Sin City but you also see loyalty that touches your heart.
The man who rides his bike around Las Vegas Boulevard looking for cans and bottles definitely has a purpose. The man who collects money for his weed connection has a purpose.

And there is loyalty that surpasses anything you can create on a weekend gambling binge.

When you see a couple who stays together for years in spite of one being in a wheelchair and the need for one to help the other into the bathroom you have to be pretty hard hearted not to feel something.


A street performer walks across the street on a Sin City afternoon _ Photo By Royal Hopper

That couple at the restaurant…
The husband is at least 80 and frail himself. The wife is wheelchair bound and not always aware of where she is. When they come in he wheels her carefully so as to avoid jarring her or hitting the tables. He doesn’t ask for help he wheels his woman to the table like he has perhaps done for years and sits down at the table.

They talk or rather he talks to her. She doesn’t really answer except to make an occasional barely audible whisper of a reply and tell him he is wrong about something.  I get the feeling that the food the waiter puts in front of them is an after thought. The two of them being together is the object of dinner and always has been.

I swear I heard him say “yes dear.”

That’s Life in the City of Sin
Take Care Fellow Sinners

Cityscape of Sin City – Photo Royal

The man sits on the streets of Sin City near Rancho and 95 late this week _ Photo by Royal

Laying it on the line

Sometimes people just want to be heard

By Royal Hopper

The man holding the sign that read 17 years on the job. I had a stroke, looked resolute,  angry and purposeful as he strode down his back and forth path holding his sign at chest level stomping up and down Tropicana Avenue last Tuesday. It was clear he had something to say.
Now and then the resolute man held the sign up a bit. As he lowered it again to step out of the way of a hurrying passerby or onrushing Pinto that had strayed a little to far of the road he  brushed back the salt and pepper bangs of his old fashioned Buddy Holly style hair do and scowled at an unseen enemy.

In the few seconds I was able to watch him work his corner of the street he didnt seem to want anything . He didn’t look desperate or hungry ..As far as I could tell He just wanted to be heard. He wants the injustice committed against him to be known…He wants to not be invisible not be another casualty  in the war between the dual gremlins of hard times and bad haircuts  ….Some of the time people surprise you…sometimes they just want you to watch and listen.

Raggedy Ann stops to window shop on The Strip this week _ Photo by Royal

Not far down the street another younger less desperate looking  Sin City denizen holds a sign that urges passerby to help the homeless, and a donation bucket for the help to collect  money for the unfortunate in.
Perhaps understandably he smiles sedately when a bikini clad sidewalk princess walks up to ask directions and change for the payphone because her cell phone is dead. Perhaps it is forgivable when he absent mindedly reaches into his donation bucket and hands the sidewalk princess a token of his affection for her phone call.
Sometimes people here need to be noticed ..Its in their blood to draw attention to themselves, like the people who periodically appear on Las Vegas roads throughout the year holding huge yellow sign proclaiming Zionism owns the world media or the man who periodically drives down many Las Vegas streets on a bicycle honking his horn, ringing his bell and blowing a whistle the flag of a third world country,  Palestine perhaps, waving in the wind and a sign taped to both his back and front. Some people just need to be noticed they need to be listened too even if most people driving down the road that day probably think Zionism is a Greek Polka band and couldn’t spell the words on their sign even if they were paid to carry them.
Some people need to be listened to.

Sitting in the City of Sin – Photo by Royal

In the same place in the same city on a different day an older person in a wheelchair strays off sidewalk into the traffic lane of a Sin City road late afternoon after the first round of free drinks for gamblers has evolved into the fourth and the fourteenth and the drivers on the boulevard  barely seem to know they are on a road rather than a parking lot.

A man who has seen his better days long ago steps out in front of her and stares down an angry motorist bleeping their horn at her for several seconds before changing lanes and moving on. The wheelchair is safe on the side walk and the brave man who has seen his better days doesn’t seem to have any regrets as he walks on ignored by the person he helped.  It’s not often that people in this jaded angry city will surprise you but sometimes they will. ….
I suppose not everyone needs to be heard. The quick acting savior of of the weaving wheelchair bound lady left the scene the way he found it..slinking, unnoticed, finally vanishing into the neon vista of Sin City concrete, asphalt steel and brightly colored glass.
He seemed to get  satisfaction from saving his fellow ner do well in the wheel chair and forcing the BMW bothering her to back off and go its merry way.
Or maybe he did need to be noticed. Maybe his need is so intense he was willing to face down 1200 pounds of German engineered master piece just so people would see he was worth listening to.


photo by Royal


The light turned at that intersection on Tropicana with the man holding sign proclaiming 17 years of loyalty had gotten him nothing. Realizing the line my car was in was leaving he turned to a line held captive by the turn only light which was red and held his sign up to them. He needed to be heard so badly he barely notice when someone threw a spare bill at his feet. He kept walking, holding the sign up for the contributor to make sure he read it…”The sign is the thing,” he seemed to say. I want to be heard.. And seen. I m here….or maybe he just forgot his glasses.

We are passionate people, born drama queens and performers eager to show people the truth of who we are. We are also some of the best BSers ie the best liars in the face of the planet.  We can be heroes (David Bowie) or we can be villains with equal facility and we are good at both.

The thing about Vegas is its Vegas. You can never tell if someone is laying it on the line or just feeding you a line. You can never tell is someone is completely full of neon inspired crap or if they are the real thing

Whatever you say about the strangeness of Sin City. The people here have an odd earnestness about them. When they are angry, when they are sad, when they are hungry ..they tell you why.  Of course the reverse is also true…Nobody spins a line like us Sinners
We can blurt out the truth like it’s the end of the world and we have nothing to lose and we can lie to your face for the price of a sandwich and cup of coffee.

Such is life in the City of Sin

take care fellow Sinners