Just There until they are not

by Royal Hopper

There is a guy who stands alone on the side of an isolated Vegas road where factory workers driving pick ups with shotguns racks in the cab enter their work place and asks for money.
The man stands unmoving at times as those who know him pass by without missing a beat. He has become almost part of the landscape _ some thing people expect to see.
The man wears a beard that looks almost fake it is so caked with sweat, dust, and oil. A pair of straight cut jeans hangs on his skinny legs almost painfully as if the pants themselves would jump off and run away if they could. kuma.JPG
A straight cut brown jacket that reaches past his waist and looks like it came right out of a JC Pennies catalog in 1975 . He looks out of time like he has literally been standing there for 40 plus years and somehow forgot to leave his isolated little street corner.
Another man one with some money sits quietly in a corner lost in some memory until you talk to him. It turns out he has come to the City of Sin for more than 40-years. Everyone he know is gone so he just does his thing has lunch, plays his slots and mostly sits in a spot where no one notice shim and watches a world he no longer understands.
Another time I caught a woman a stranger staring at me. I asked her politle with my bet customer service smile if I could help her. She said politely no. Go ahead and do what you were doing and then she proceded to tell me everything I had done at work for six hours. I instantly felt like a dweeb because I hadnt noticed her watching me not even once..She was not loud or dangerous or needy enough I guess.IMG_0495.JPG
That is the thing in this city in most cities of any size. The whole city is large and bright _impossible to ignore. The images jump out of background and into your eye sight unbidden and unequaled. Huge neon signs 40 feet tall, video dancing girls doing burlesque on Main Street at lunch time from three blocks away and fake volcanoes blowing their tops for all to see. Out front there are pretend Elvi, Power Rangers, superheroes and fake pop stars dressed in bright yellows, reds and golds and silvers.
Then there are the people who are there but not there like Mr. Beard. They become part of the landscape until they ask you for money or you just in a giving mood give them some. They like the rocks and the neon and the hot dry dead desert air are just there _ until they aren’t any more…..IMG_0361.JPG
When I worked at the poor doomed Riviera there was this homeless guy who looked like he had just walked out of some science fiction death camp on the moon. He looked like a freaking zombie _ man for real. He was there every day in the background having learned to avoid the security guards like me . You barely noticed him unless he was causing trouble which was seldom because he was just to weak and sickly. The one day he wasn’t there. I still wonder what happened to the dude…..desert flower.JPG
Did he get help? Was it finally his time one day? After abusing his body for so many years did it finally give up or did he just fade away like most parts of the landscape whose time had come much like the poor old Riv herself….
Its not fairly tale or a disaster movie..Its life in he City of Sin….

Love you Sinners


Logic For Sale ..This sign always cracks me up _ Royal Hopper


Our backyard – Royal Hopper


Another cool desert Flower _ Royal Hopper


A Drive in the desert – Royal Hopper


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The Triple Threat

by Royal Hopper
I was driving to work one fine southern Nevada day when something potentially tragic caught my eye. An older white haired man in a wheelchair with a puppy in his lap sat in the median in the middle of a well traveled intersection in suburban Sin City by way appearing unable to move.

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This skateboarder examines Logic for Sale – Photo by Royal Hopper

My jaded 50 something mind temporarily suspended the innate cynicism bred by 17 years off and on in this city and panicked enough to turn off the radio in case I had to fish my cell phone out of my pocket and call for help.
“Somebody help him,” was my first thought maybe he passed out or is sick and cant make it across the median. “Oh good,” was the second thought as a pedestrian walked up behind him stopping right beside him.

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Scooter on the sidewalk _ Royal Hopper

“What the…” was my third thought as the wheelchair bound man turned his head up toward the pedestrian and posed a question. The other man patted his pocket as if the say he was broke too and when the pedestrian cross walk sign changed he walked on while the white haired wheelchair bound man with the puppy in his lap stayed put and slowly raised a sign to his chest and pointed it. sign holder 4.JPG
As the light changed and I was forced to continue my journey to my mortgage payment, I mean work. The fourth thought that entered my head was …”oh that is what a triple threat looks like.”

It terms of Sin City sign holders a triple threat is someone who exhibits all the Sympathy Signs….all those things designed things to illicit sympathy from potential donors.
A good sign is the most basic sympathy sign. From the serious type ” Hungry anything helps, to the humorous version like “ninjas kidnapped my family and I need money for karate lessons to get them back” the hand held sign is the first.

Second in this case is the prop. Puppies are great props. Anybody who doesn’t like dogs is a mutant and certainly on my “to avoid list”. Because people consider dogs to be sympathetic, cute and incapable of making choices they are perfect props for sign holders trying to get donations.

Even if you don’t like the sign holders you have to love dogs… (Of course you could do what my Dad who was in his late 70’s at the time and but two hot dogs and give to the dog and eat the other in front of the sign holder)

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The third is the person themselves…. Old people with white hair are vulnerable, women are generally more appealing victims than men and white haired old men in a wheelchair with a puppy in their lap holding a clever well written sign is what is called triple threat.
Kids dont generally work as a prop because people tend to call child services when they see a child standing with their parent in the middle of the road.
Panhandling is a Vegas tradition almost as old as burying people in the desert and tipping the cocktail waitress who brings you your drinks, spending your kids college fund and getting rolled by girl named Bambi….seriously.

The entire purpose of the City is to entertain you and get you to fork over your money for things you dont need and that seldom benefit you except that you feel tough for having played in Vegas.
Maybe you feel that way when you give to the triple threat sign holders and all their panhandling kin. Maybe you give to the signholders often maybe you never give to them. Thats something you will have to debate in your own conscious.

It is important to understand that whatever you decide… ..whether you give in and give to the people who are asking. Nothing will really change. The next day there will still be people holding signs asking for money. There will still be people spiking drinks and picking pockets. there will still be slot machines and craps tables and girls named Bambi. It is the way of things and it aint going to change soon.
It is life in the City of Sin
Love You Sinners

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A Walk Through the Valley of Fire

by Royal Hopper


People say that living in this City warps your sensibilities. Even the great outdoors start looking like the inside of a Vegas casino. That’s not really true is it….?
I took a weekend off from the Sin City shuffle. I took the family including my mother and my brother who came into the town for the weekend from Texas to the Valley of Fire an hour’s drive from the City of Sin the other side of Lake Meade in State Park that was once haven for Geronimo and other not so heroic outlaws. Ram on topof ridge.JPG
Not unlike the City itself now that I think about. Vegas was founded by gangsters, cowboys and tourists of all kinds. The City of Sin is visited by millions of tourists visiting the city from all over the world.
Of course the tour group of French speaking tourist hiking through the Valley of Fire that day were from a long way away as were the Japanese hiking group that was behind them and the German speaking group and the Australian group and so on.
Vegas is full of all sorts of unsavory characters who will steal your stuff. The Valley of fire is full of rattlesnakes, coyotes, thieving little birds who steal the last piece of your protein bar from the table in front of you. lizard up close.JPG
There are all sorts of weird people in Las Vegas who pose for pictures dressed as all kinds of creatures, big bird power rangers and the sort. Of course there were those Big Horn sheep on top of that Rock who posed for pictures from the tourists below speaking six different languages and snapping pics of the Ram was he seriously seemed to be posing for the cameras. I was surprised someone didn’t break out a tape deck and play Modonna’s Vogue for the camera loving hooved Prima Donna.
In Vegas, the City of Sin, you see miles of intriguing neon signs and exotic ads for exotic places. You see intricate graffiti some of it almost like writing or art. In the Valley of Fire there are 3,000 year old Petroglyphs scraped into the Fiery red rock by Native Americans who were likely still recovering form the last Ice Age. Some of the Petroglyphs found in the Nevada desert are estimated to be more than 14,000 years old. Mostly they are images of animals and people ie prehistoric graffiti and pop art. petroglyphs family 2.JPG
There were rumors Geronimo hid away in the Nevada desert before scurrying off to Mexico in the Old West. More conventional outlaws also are reputed to have hidden out in the bleak landscape of the southern Nevada desert when o the run from old west posses.
So we have drama queens, bad guys, famous signs and a colorful history of hosting mysterious bad guys and hordes of foreign tourists in the City of Sin.deear petroglyphs 2.jpg
We have drama queen animals, hordes of foreign tourists, famous signs and a history of supporting famous bad guys in the valley of Fire and the surrounding Las Vegas desert.
There are days you just have top get away from the City of out to the country.
That’s life in the City of Sin and in the Valley of Fire ……

Love you Sinners

You pull out of home heading once more to work
Half way you see a body and stop with a jerk


This was actually taken last month. It is just a lady walking on the sidewalk some where to somewhere _ Photo by Royal Hopper

A Days Journey in the City of Sin

By Royal Hopper, a herd of unicorns, four angels and a Dragon named Spirit 

A man on the sidewalk lying across it so still
flopped and not moving by reflex or will
His buddy nearby playing the guitar
So certain it seems one day he’ll go far
Strumming and singing and sitting in style
The light changes soon and you travel the mile


I never get tired of the irony _ Photo by Royal Hopper

To work past sign holders the rich and the poor
man sleeps in the gutter girl stands in the door
A wheelchair flys sidewalk bound a lady in red
she smiles like child and speeds like I said
Fearless and free she is gone in a blink
you look at her smiling and she gives you a wink

A car behind you blows his horn again and some more
You turn up the radio wait a second or two and begin to explore
what to do what to do ignore the gadfly or honk back in kindIMG_20170423_192359
In the end asthe light turns red leave them behind
You pull into work with a sigh and a grin
its now that is now not once or was or then
Its not heaven or hell just some lose some win
The weeks paycheck and another day in the City of Sin

Love you Sinners
Take care

When your weeks starts with seeing a man lay on the sidewalk near a liquor store un-moving and his buddy sits nearby strumming guitar his head resting just below a sign that says BEER and your only thought is …was that the theme from friends ??/You know its time for a vacation…Your brain just work and when you sit down to rite your weekly blog you know its time for some dysfunctional poetry and a marathon of Buffy fan videos (Dark Willow fanatic here) and a bunch of Doors You Tube vids to force your brain out of the tiresome treadmill of every day life and back into the other world of magic and thought where it belongs…..


Noise is a statement in Sin City

By Royal Hopper


You see them approach the elevator in the decades old monument to gambling and vice in perfect matching pink polos and matching designer pale blue pants like some middle aged prep school drill team. The stop and smile as they approach certain that they look like the coolest thing since Elvis and as they approach you in perfect smiling unison.
So they stop and prepare to speak…to each other of course not the non polo prep drill team humans around them the tensions build (not really it just sounded cool) and one thing echoes across the many thousands of times polished marble …everything in this city is noisy.

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Sign holders all over the city. This one was dancing up storm on a Sin City street corner advertising a Barber Shop Photo by Royal Hopper

The inane conversation of the polo drill team is suddenly drowned out by a blaring radio, a couple arguing and a pre-programmed digital announcement casting a glare on the thousand square feet of polished white marble in the long gilded hallway and the fall out of a nearby neon sign. Everything here is noisy in some way sound, distracting visual stimulation and social differences that would shock those from less enlightened.

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When I first arrived in Las Vegas in mid 1989 I just out of the US Army via SE Texas both places of intensely enforced and predictable social order where people are loud at appropriate and rare moments like at football games and when you are shooting heavy machine guns but not when they are eating lunch it was a shock to say the least. The noise alone and the jungle of neon signs. Needless to say the first time I saw two men holding hands or two women kissing it was a shock. It isn’t such a big deal in this city and it shouldn’t be….
First remember there is no such thing as absolute silence in the normal world. A normal human body generates several decibels of sound by just working, breathing heart beating ect ect. ect. I remember once actually being asked by a customers at a casino i worked at. “Can you do something about the volume,” she said pointing at something I could not see. I looked around thinking she was talking about the music on the PA or a band playing nearby. I looked in the direction she was pointing and saw nothing but sky. One of the rare desert rain storms was dancing across the desert sky drenching the dry terrain and creating a racket as the rain drops crashed onto the oily dirty concrete and asphalt.
“I will see what I can do,” I said as amiably as I could manage. Incidentally about that time the rain let up. Just mother nature taking a break. The woman smiled a surprised sleepy smile and said “Well thank you,” and half giggling skipped away down the walkway toward the Sin City sidewalk to look at the drenched landscape.

It is said that whispering between two people can generate 30 decibel of detectable sound and a normal human voice as many as 60 decibels. There is visual noise as well. Huge mountains in the background dominating the skyline and down in the valley miles of neon signs some 30 feet tall flashing every attraction know to civilized man. On the quietest day in this city there is still music every where. There is still a neon cowboy flashing his welcoming wave somewhere. There are still people dressed like Big Bird and Power Rangers posing for pictures somewhere. There are still people holding signs telling about aliens or ninjas or just saying they are hungry. There is something somewhere all the time. That is life. traffic shot.JPG
Its never really completely quiet here or anywhere else either in sound or vision but here the loudness is obvious and constant. It is easy for people sensitive to such things to feel overwhelmed by all the visual and audio noise or in a twisted way somehow protected by it _ as if with all the noise no one will notice them. Perhaps that is why many people come to this town to end it all.
I once had a fairly tough looking man confess to me he couldn’t stand the noise of the place any more and couldn’t seem to clear his head. I half jokingly told the man about Zion National Park. “The wife and I have been several times it beautiful.” Go somewhere safe and isolated. Play only music that calms you and makes you think. Look at things that make you calm like sunsets in the mountains and only be around people who calm your mind and soul. You cant get away from the noise it is everywhere so only be around the noise that calms you and helps you think. Your mind will figure itself out when it only has to deal with noise it likes. Quiet is a myth.motor cycle guy.JPG
“Wow yeah,” he said with a look of resigned determination coming over him. I turned to look at the man and continue our conversation but he was gone. I saw him a few minutes later with abag on his should and a paper ticket of some kind in his hand…”Thanks man,” he said as he hurried on his way, “Thanks.” I never saw him again. I hope he is okay,
Whatever the reason the constant noise audio and visual and social is why so many people who come to live here or even visit a lot , try to generate their own noise pollution _one of their own choosing ..Their own City of Sin Cammo Cover..there own weird noise to protect from the bombardment they constantly face.
Just imagine a huge building full of people drinking, talking, yelling sometimes, music playing in the background, thousands of slot machines with exotic themes each making several decibels of noise each playing what modern folks call a cut scene to entice people to play. Now imagine a city full of them surrounded by a natural environment that is full of noise. I remember once years ago having to wait several minutes for a group of coyotes to cross the road while they constantly yelped and yipped. sign jungle.JPG
Add to that the thousands of vehicles traveling the byways of Sin City roaring from their overpowered engines blasting music from their collective stereos and lets no forget the desert wind roaring down out of the mountains. Even the neon signs this city is famous for generate multiple decibels of noise and the juice that keeps them bright hums and sparks the night away. I remember once when I was working at the poor doomed Riviera having a contingent of bikers roar by in groups of 100 followed by a huge truck with a broken muffler, two more trucks blaring adds for local shooting ranges and tour bus with a group of students shouting and screaming and exposing various body parts. The noise was louder than the Metallica concert I saw in the 90s and the man sleeping in the planter near the road never even woke up.

sign jungle

A corner of the neon jungle _ Photo by Royal Hopper

It is the Sin City way…Sometime there are screams. Sometimes howls of laughter and debauched glee. Sometimes the sound of couples laughing, arguing and doing other things couples do.

One of the things you notice about LasVegas , the City of Sin if you come to it from the worlds smaller more tranquil locations is _ It is loud.
Thats life in the City of Sin Sinners
Love you guys


A man on his bike at a stop light talking on his something _ Photo by Royal Hopper 

Overgrown Children in the City of Sin


by Royal Hopper
“I want my drink,” a man once said while standing in a Vegas casino literally stomping his feet like a 5-year-old as employees at a sin City gaming establishment told him he had been cut off. Imagine a man well past his prime jumping up and down and screaming like a tantrum throwing child.

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In the desert you take your giant daisies as you find them – Photo by Royal Hopper

Now further imagine a grown man peeing on a pool deck out of spite and starting a scrap with the security officers who arrived to escort him out and then crying when they put him in handcuffs.

The City of Sin is for adults goes the time honored refrain. Kids have no place here goes the cliche. This place is for grown ups. In fact the reason the City of Sin has survived all these years is that it is a city full of demanding sometimes dangerous overgrown children.bottle in the river.JPG

Think about it. This City is in the middle of the desert whose only real factory a rocket fuel plant blew up years ago. It has no standing water and only has enough water in its natural aquifers for 200 people. Without the gambling, drinking and playful things that are part of the Vegas legend it would be a bathroom stop on the way to LA with four gas stations, a couple of bars and a cheesy 100 room motel named after someone’s favorite aunt.

People come here to remember who they were and who they could have been and to indulge in appetites best left in the past. many times you see someone in their 70s rocker best or dressed like an Urban Cowboy warrior or rocking that sporty mullet. I once actually saw a man come out onto the pool deck at a Sin City casino hotel dressed to the nines in rebel gear..dark sun glasses, leather jacket, metal studded black pants, pony tail and all.

He stepped out toward the water and stood staring at his image in the clear water. “Oh who am I kidding,” he said sliding the jacket and glasses off and turning around just as his grand daughter came running up behind him and jumped into his arms from a running start.

These days everyone comes to Las Vegas ..not only do drunken accountants come to Sin city to pick fights with drunken decorators …Young athletes from every sports come here with their parents to decide the champions of their sport….be it volleyball, basketball, Taekwondo or Karate.

You see them sometimes wandering in groups through the casino watching their parents spend their vacation money before being shooed away to place kids are allowed.  It is not actual children that keep the City of Sin alive and thriving.
Las Vegasis in fact thriving exacly because most of its visitors have never really grown up and they come to Las Vegas to let their inner 17-year-old out to play.

That is life and childhood in the City of Sin

Love you Sinners

Take Care

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This guy is either homeless or has very low standards in camp sites _ Photo by Royal Hopper

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Keeping your stuff safe

by Royal Hopper
“Who would take a half smoked cigar,” remarked the badly dressed man puffing on a fresh stogie and chomping on it like J Jonah Jameson (Marvel look it up) five minutes before deadline.
Someone had stolen his half smoked stogie from the slot machine where he had left it while getting change and the man was completely bewildered. This is an all to common occurrence _ both the theft and bewilderment. People sometimes get fooled by the the plethora of security cameras in a Vegas casino and the ever vigilant security officers walking around into leaving their stuff laying around or forgetting it on their way to the airport.


The City if Sin from a distance _ Photo by Royal Hopper

This is the city of Sin brothers and sisters. There are people in this town who will steal your underwear if you give them a chance while your wearing them and they will damn sure steal your money or your virtue if you allow it _ and far to many people do.
There is one solid golden rule in the City of Sin that every tourist would do well to remember. If you leave your stuff where it can be gotten someone will take it…..If your lucky the security officers patrolling the area will spot it first and take it somewhere safe _ but they are busy keeping an eye on a Vegas casino and often have their hands full. Chances are if the hotel or casino employees are busy it will simply be taken by some random scumbag and guess what most of the time you are out of luck.IMG_0238.JPG

Keep your hands on your stuff or you will lose it and it is just as much your fault as the scumbag whose stole it because as jaded as this will sound their are thieves and assholes everywhere and if that somehow doesn’t sink in you don’t belong here even for the weekend.
I remember once years ago there was a couple who came to a casino I was working at circa 1989. The man won a jackpot, cashed it out, stole the couples plane tickets and cash ran off to a nearby town with a random bimbo. We actually looked for this guy which but he was long gone.


Palm trees and Power lines – Royal Hopper

Once alongh time ago very nice older lady left her purse, full of medication and money sitting at a slot machine while she went to the bathroom …for 30 minutes. No surprise it was gone when she got back. “I cant believe someone would steal my purse. I was only gone a little while,” said the very nice lady now sans purse, medication and cash.
Once a man in another casino i worked at actually had to nerve to complain that someone had stolen his cocaine. Another was outright furious that he had left his door open to go down the hall for an hour and low and behold the pile of cash he left on the bed was gone.
At any given time the lost and found departments of most hotels are full of stuff left by guest and found by employees before some ahole found it and took it home. They are the lucky ones….


It’s donkeys _ Photo by Royal Hopper

Think about it. If even 10 percent of the 49.2 million visitors to the City of Sin in 2016* were bad actors then there are 4.9 million people passing through this city _ the City of Sin_who will to take your stuff if they have a chance.
. The casinos will do their best to keep you alive but it is up to you to keep a hold of your stuff.


Sue me I like birds _ Photo by Royal Hopper

Lastly it is called the City of Sin for a reason genius.

Love you Sinners

* Las Vegas Review Journal Jan. 10, 2017

Random tips

If the room has a safe use it

Take what you need leave the rest in the safe or safety deposit box

Take what cash you need out of the bank shortly before an event leave the rest in the bank

Have a designated sober person to carry your stuff if you plan on getting toasted

When you move from place to place get in the habit of taking an inventory of your stuff

Relaxing is for Nebraska be alert