Pride, Preservation and the Holidays in Sin City

By Royal Hopper 


Cell Phone image of Sin City back roads this Monday _ Royal….sue me I had to use the batteries in my camera for Christmas gifts ….So cell phone photos will have to do

A lone woman in a Sin City café searches in her painfully preserved, much used change purse, her arms shaking a bit with the effort.
On a Sin City sidewalk a man jogs down the street dressed in blue jeans with no shoes …his black sock clad feet hitting the pavement with determination.
In a nearby arcade a middle aged man wandered into arcade arena realizes people are watching him walk toward a video game with a handful of tokens and pretends to be looking for someone else to give the tokens to before striding toward his favorite video game. “No I’m not actually here to play video games I really walking through the a room
Across the café another woman proudly shows off her fancy broad brimmed lace hat last popular before prohibition took hold of the country.

Pride and the attempt to preserve it may be the one constant in the universe. It is a paradigm constantly at war with our better nature our sometimes justified sense of self preservation and need for attention. We all strive to meet the bar of our chosen environment and seek some approval from the denizens in it.
Maybe the man jogging down the street lost his jogging suit and was so desperate for a run he left his Nikes sitting on the curb and just started running. Maybe he was just so drunk he wandered into the street sans shoes and was desperate to convince everyone some homeless guy hadn’t stolen his shoes while he was passed out _ he started to jog.
Back in the café…

After a few painful seconds the well worn white haired diner seems to realize all she has to tip the hard working server is a hand full of coins mostly pennies. After a very pregnant pause in time she finally manages to fish out a handful of coins; mostly pennies takes what is for her a deep breath and starts to hand them to the waitress. Perhaps she doesn’t want the senior discount or is fishing for exact change or more likely a tip, because you always tip something in Vegas. …
On the street the shoeless black socks guy starts to slow down then suddenly realizes its cold and people are watching ….he resumes jogging_ hurtling down the street with a runners stride anyone would be proud of.
“I’m just jogging in my socks …really…”


Vegas street scene

At the café mustering what pride she has left the elder diner attempts to give the pennies she has to the waitress who is leaning over the table smiling the way many people do when presented with an uncomfortable choice. What is the right thing to do you take the tip with a smile ??? Or tell her it was your pleasure and put the white haired diner’s pennies back in her worn change purse.
“No honey it’s all right,” she says smiling the smile of those who have struggled with a difficult decision and are certain they have made the right choice_ like an actor who knew she had hit her mark and didn’t need to wait for the director to yell cut to walk off the set with a smile.

After a week in the relative banal safety of the suburbs I ventured back into the city to once more punch a clock and earn my keep. A week hadn’t changed the City of Sin one bit. Everything was in its place. Men who should know better still invited strangers to their room and woke up broke, a wealthy retiree won $14,000 playing penny slots.. Right down the aisle from a retiree who got a job so he could bet on the horses.

The last two shopping days before Christmas were more crowded and dangerous than some of the casinos on the strip. It was more like a mosh pit in LA than a suburban shopping mall I visited this week in the City of Sin.

That’s Christmas in the City of Sin
Rock on Sinners
I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a New Years full of fun


contributing photographer Matt S.

Girls with bizarre nicknames still prowled the brightly lit neon hallways and Elvis still popped up from time to time looking for that two for one buffet and a buddy name Snowball. Perhaps the one constant in the universe isn’t pride after all Perhaps in the end we all are just playing a roll and we want to make sure we get our lines right.

Keeping the faith in your nickname

File photo of Lady chillin’ at a Sin City bus stop _ Photo by Royal


Keeping the faith in your nickname

Wintertime in the City of Sin

by Royal Hopper
It is said that Winter in the desert causes many people to loose their faith, their minds and sometimes their toes or even their lives. Yellow Jacket, Boom Box and Buck Naked never give in to the desert winter They keep their faith and their sense of humor even if their pants and their minds are sometimes absent from the scene.
After a while you get used to seeing people wrapped in blankets wandering the streets with decorated shopping carts. You get used to seeing people dressed in Gucci talking to themselves and complaining about the price of coffee and you get used to ordinary who had had enough and decide to stop pretending they are not damaged. You get so used to it you start to give nicknames to the ones that stand out. You don’t actually talk to them you just give them nicknames after all crazy people cooties might be contagious.    
Yellow Jacket and Boom Box, (nicknames genius) are hardened veterans of the Sin City Street scene.  Boom Box is a music lover, his state of the art  shopping cart/work truck comes standard with free air conditioning, a one manpower engine and generous storage for all his worldly possessions.
Boom box never goes anywhere without his cart, his rhythm or the battery powered music machine that caused one Sin City order keeper to dub him Boom Box.
A car battery ingeniously bound to his shopping cart powers the old 80s music machine.  he has the right  mood music belting from his “car radio.”

 He tunes the channel selector past the Bee Gees and Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain and assorted elevator Muzak before settling on some AM classic rock sonata by a band named after a firearm and then bebops down the boulevard cruising down Sin City’s main byway  in his man powered sports cart.
His fellow Sinner Yellow Jacket gets his nickname from the bright yellow jacket he dons when the weather gets nippy. Despite the fact the bright yellow apparel can be seen from hundreds of feet away his version of winter time security means learning the layout of the towns infamous gambling houses and hiding in their hidden toasty warm corners  

Buoyed by fashion and music these two veteran street urchins literally never miss a beat even with ice cycles hanging from their beards.  Lastly I would like to talk about Buck Naked. Buck got his nickname from casino employees because of his proclivity for doing deep knee bends sans trousers or underwear or jacket in freezing temperatures of Mid December. I guess some people just don’t like paying gym memberships or pants, or shoes or any other kind of clothing.

File photo of a Sin City shopping cart driver taking in the Sin City scenery _ Photo by Royal

In other places in Sin City..two men face off with knives inside a casino and surprise these two who we will call dumb ass knife guys were caught.  

Later in Sin City shoppers stumble through Wal_ Mart trying to pay for Christmas gifts with winning slot tickets, panhandling for Christmas Gift money in a store parking lot and one man in a red shirt with a big white beard gets told …”Merry Christmas Santa,” as he walks out the store. The pretend Santa looks at the person is surprise as a passerby overcome with the holiday spirit drops a dollar into the cookware he had apparently purchased at the store. Santa wasn’t collecting for charity he was shopping…

Such is Life in the City of Sin

Happy Holidays Fellow Sinners

Manny Blessings    

Looking back at Nostalgia and bumping your head

By Royal Hopper

I saw an old green Cutlass on a road in Las Vegas recently as I drove past a tour bus, an Elvi in a convertible and a grandma wearing a fur coat and thought of a song, a road in Kansas and the glories of 1986.
As I dove past the usual suspects hanging out on Sin City Boulevard ..the cast of cartoon characters posing for pictures, street musicians living up a crowd on the foot bridge with bad jazz, Elvi imitators grabbing a smoke between shows and a street person holding a sign that boasted his family had been kidnapped by alien ninjas I thought of The orange /beast.

There is nothing more classically Vegas than hocking your jewelry for spending money _ Photo Royal Hopper

The Orange beast or B****as some friends called it was the bright orange 1972 Cutlass.
that I drove for awhile in the mid 80s when I was in the army. I thought of the Orange beast as I drove past the forest green Cutlass that a fellow Sinner had restored to working order and got sentimental for those halcyon days of yore I dove that Orange Beast of an Oldsmobile.
The funny thing about Las Vegas (and as this is my second time coming back to Sin City I consider myself an honorary local.) Sin City is one of the most culturally schizophrenic  places on earth, at the same time remarkably unsentimental and obsessed with the romantic glories of the past.

On one hand we will tear down or blow up a historical landmark like it was broken down chicken coop and make a party out of it in the process.
Drive past the empty lot where the old Landmark Hotel once you will see neon sign that once graced the Landmark’s Paradise Road entryway still blinking off an on shouting its neon message to all passersby and behind it an empty lot where the groundbreaking post modern architecture of the Golden Age once stood. It was a party when the old property bit the dust in a town where every day someone pretends to be a pop star that has been dead for more than 30 years.

Even the things that replaced the cliches of old are cliches now. Same song second verse _ Photo by Royal Hopper

It just seemed to fit _ Photo by Royal Hopper

“Don’t look back,” I thought as the wave of nostalgia hit me like a brick so of course I began looking back with a brief but sudden intensity. I mean looking back literally because the driver of the car behind me in some cliché mid life crisis classic SUV was angry that I was blocking their illegal lane change was honking their horn and cursing in a language I didn’t understand.
I do remember that bright orange Oldsmobile bomb had purple tinting to go with its bright orange body and was perhaps the ugliest car in the lower 48 states.
It shook like jackhammer at any speed faster than 60 mph and its oversized Oldsmobile engine sucked gas like a crack addict sucking on his last pipe or a coffee addict right before the inevitable Coffee Prohibition predicted by the random drunken psychic that was walking down the street that day

It was an ugly, impractical car and hard to drive. “Damn I miss that car,” I thought as some mindless idiot ran across the Las Vegas street in front of me narrowly dodging a unpleasant impromptu head on meeting with a Beamer, two Nissans, a bicyclist and a purple Smart Car.

“I do miss it…”

I waved at the driver and proceeded at the proper speed to the intersection. Traffic was heavy. The light at the next intersection had turned red by the time the honker who had traveled in the turn lane for quite a while trying to break in line caught up with me in my old travel worn pewter GMC pick up _ the dull, practical vehicle I now drive.

The man cursed in some accent I didn’t understand New Jerseyite or Alabaman maybe and instead of waiting 20 seconds for the light to change so I could move forward hit the gas from the turn lane and burned rubber through the red light past the black and white Police car conveniently taking in the city sights nearby who immediately turned on his flashing police lights. I must admit I giggled a bit as the cop stepped out of his car ticket book in hand.

It hurt ….mostly because as traffic drew to a halt I threw a sidelong glance at the illegal lane changing honker getting a ticket and nearly bit my lip suppressing a laugh.

The classic car was getting a classic ticket …….
Some people just cant let go of the past….

Like the 40-year-old chorus with plastic surgery and transplant scars and the old car boasting mismatched bumpers and car doors from three different shades of green we are all built of spare parts and old stuff. We are all built from the building blocks of past experience.
Like ghost of Elvis and Bugsy that seem to float over every Vegas street corner sometimes quite literally people just cant seem to let go and move on..  I guess I’m in good company..

That is life in the City of Sin

Til Next time

So long Sinners