guy with sign

The sign holder is an eternal feature of this city and of modern life -Royal Hopper

The sky is gray in the desert and you make your daily drive to your mortgage paying endeavor …It gives the gray concrete and neon on the City of sin a rare manic quality as they wonder what to do int he face of these strange gray things dropping water from the sky… This is the desert and we don’t have time for things like weather ..We are to busy chasing our tails 

 It rains in the desert you know or look for what you need not what you want


by Royal Hopper
You see a man ..a shaggy bedraggled man in a Guns and Roses T Shirt frowning as he leafs through the contents of a trash dumpster as the drizzle of rain assaults his antiquated but well kept form the cigarette hanging from his lips Nicki Six/Slash/ Keith Richards style bobbing up and down as his search for something intensifies.  Its not the plastic sheeting in the dumpster that he searches for and the rain intensifies and begins to soak him. The very thing that would keep him dry is not what he is looking for….

cow sign

This colorful sign on the road to Zion advertises beer wine and beef – Royal Hopper

As the light turned and the flow of traffic moves on out of the corner of your eye you can see the man having a Eureka moment perhaps finding the things he believed but it is not the plastic sheeting that could keep him dry….as the traffic slows you sneak a peek behind you at the man.. He looks disappointed and exasperated and then looks up at the sky as if he has just realized he is being rained on. As he bends down to pick up something ..perhaps the plastic sheeting ..the car behind you pops his horn a little reminding you that this is traffic in the City of Sin and you are on your way to work ….Sighing a little you drive on…homeless camp 4.JPG

As the weather lightened up homeless camps in the city exploded …with tents popping up on every inch of open land and just as quickly disappearing when it started raining perhaps moving underground or in doors.

As you near the last stretch of road before your workplace you see a homeless camp that was full of tents the week before. They are mostly gone but there is a lone man you see snuggling up next to a fence laying on the bare sandy ground preparing to take a needed nap. He notices the rain which is intensifying but not yet pounding and looks up at the sky..appears to sigh and pull something from the ground over him and go back to snuggling with the fence. bench by the tree in zion.JPG
That is the thing about this city. The thing people look the hardest for is not what they really need at the time …They will get soaked to the skin in the rare desert rain storm before they will give up the search for the the thing they want …..
a day and a half later in the morning the wife and you head out of town to go hiking in a National Park. love the city ..but some times you have to get away from it ……That is life in the City of Sin


homeless camp 2

A homeless camp occupies a drainage ditch off of Swenson Street in the City of Sin- Royal Hopper

For a brief few days a year Las Vegas is a pleasant calm place you can camp outdoors in
Weather wise anyway ….For a few days its not to hot or cold and there is spring.
Spring in the desert is like ..the neon of the city ..beautiful in small isolated spots ..with occasional splashes of color ..but mostly the same as it always is.
Everyone knows this especially the City’s homeless who take this rare opportunity to camp outdoors until the city’s finest or angry property owners run them off. I drive past a dry plain drainage ditch on my way to work that covers one small corner of the city of Sin. Now that spring is here the tent and sleeping bags have popped up like mushrooms on wet grass almost like a small city. This time of year before the oppressive heat of the desert literally drives them underground they come out in the open….

perfect vegas mascot

Is this the perfect Vegas mascot or what. Actually this is on the Naked Pizza building on Swenson/Joe W. Brown _ Royal Hopper

Spring in this desert is like the neon of its city’s streets . Brightly colored and filled with artificial promise.

By Royal Hopper

You Drive past a ditch an isolated patch of dirt and dust

and spot a sea of places people live when they must
have someplace and have none
Firt you notice a tent surrounded by scraps
of paper, old food , liqour, space blankets and maps
a dog, a crow and a man taking a nap
then you see a sleeping bag laying in the sand
and a bicycle loaded with booty propped up on its stand
a collection of rags flowers and newspapers next to a pack
another tent another bike
a dumpster turned over and the remains of a mike IMG_4338.JPG
a comforter and the ground a box of donuts with the donuts all gone
a pillow some dirt and on and on and on
A quarter mile or more in the bottom of the ditch ist sides and top
it has always been it always is so and aint never gonna stop
so just go home and let me say again
This aint a place to begin
This aint Nebraska, Canada or Belgium
This aint Paradise.. Its the City of Sin
Love You Sinners

roadside sculptor

A roadside sculptor _ Royal Hopper

Sometimes things are not exactly what they seem and sometimes they are..


By Royal Hopper 


You are pulling out of your driveway headed toward the mortgage paying destination past the International Food and Beer festival you see a car with an advertising banner on the back swerve as you pull into traffic ..He straddles the lane markers as he swerves back and forth like an absent minded ner do well who just cant make up his mind.
This goes on for several blocks until you spy one of Las Vegas finest writing a ticket to an unlucky motorist the swerving Joe as we shall call him suddenly straightens up slows down and drives with an almost painful care before taking the first turn he sees and carefully driving away from the police officer and the big stadium full of beer drinkers and food lovers.


The front of the New York New York _ Royal Hopper

Now it could be the driver from this car is new town and was just checking his map while he was swerving from lane to lane unable to decipher which was his turn was.

Or it could be he had such an immense respect for police officers he immediately slowed down so he could wave as he passed by and found his lane and drove straight to maintain his steady wave as he drove. Or he was drunk as a proverbial skunk. Stoned out of his freaking gourde or tripping hard on artificial joy. It could be that he drank many beers and the Beer festival and was spiking a 3.0 breathalyzer as he made his way back to his friends nearby apartment and away from one of Las Vegas finest while he was to busy writing a ticket to notice this driver was in major DUI territory.

big cloud

It could be a UFO or it could be a cloud ???Royal Hopper

You see a man fairly well dressed sifting through a collection of free drink and dinner coupons in a local casino. He doesnt smell. His clothes are new and his shoes unscuffed and freshly polished. His eyes clear and he carries himself like he belongs. Probably middle class and certainly not homeless. The man shuffles his feet uncomfortably and averts his eyes from your gaze. Then he spots a convention goer gift bag with some edibles and sundries and he snags it seeming to know security isn’t going to sweat a free give away bag laying on the floor on a busy night. He shrugs as you pick up another a few feet away and hand it to him as if to say “dude you have no idea the day I have had.”
Maybe he is part of a charity scavenger hunt and free stuff is on his to do list or maybe he is from some innocent land where there are no free give aways and he is so fasinated with it he has to take one home. Or maybe he has gambled away his vacation money and is trying to scrape together enough for lunch so he can use his last $20 for cab fair to the airport on his way home.

Las Vegas is what it is ..Neither Dark nor light ..Just force and money and alcohol ..fantasy and reputation…..
We have said it before but it bears repeating as we approach the spring of this new year. The City does not make your demons. It merely lets them out. Gives them sanctuary …Calls them to action _ however you want to put it . The City of Sin is a lot of things but it is not an aberation. It is us..set free of pretense ..of social camoflogue and social uniforms
It is the hangover you feel after drinking five shots all the while knowing you were past your limit at three ….It is the guilt you feel when you meet a girl named after a desert and are certain she is really into your old ass and wake up in a hotel room with most of your stuff missing and all your vacation money. Dude she half your age … and out of your league. You should have known better.


a political statement 

It is the guilt you feel when you have spent all you mad money and have to scrounge gift bags like a panhandler to eat lunch.

If you have a gambling problem dont come to this city genius or dont gamble more than you can afford not even a penny. If you have a drinking problem either stay home or stick to stick to coffee and tea. If you are a couple having problems for F@@ks sake dont come here. Millions of peopel come here every year have a good time and go home intact be one of them.
Sometimes life in the City of eaxctly what it is
Love you Sinners
Take Care



Billboard are an inescapable fact of a drive in the desert and life in the City of Sin _ Royal Hopper

It is an inescapable fact that this city grows like mad when the mood hits it but it doesn’t really evolve that much. The things that happen here have always happened and likely always will. This unsentimental place will demolish and throw away landmarks with decades of history like yesterday’s sushi with a shrug and a drink order without a second thought but the things that went on in that place will still go on and they always will…

The City is the City is the City

By Royal Hopper 

As you drive down a Sin City byway on your usual way to your usual mortgage paying endeavor you drive by one of the usual dirty corners of the ever changing ever indifferent corners of the ever changing ever indifferent city(I know its a mouth full. I was in a mood).

Only something is different this time. The little corner , the little patch of dirt that is an unfinished drainage ditch from nearby construction is empty of the ner do wells that usually occupy it.
Their chariots of charity that usually hold their scant worldly possessions and they days scavenging booty are empty and lined skletal automobiles made of stainless steel (shopping carts genius) in a dirty homeless parking lot .
It doent take long to figure out why. Parked nearby on the asphalt curb of the adjacent road are two of Las Vegas’ finest in a black and white SUV.
Are these derelict individuals scared of “Metro”? Of course they are and they should be. but the dirty corners emptiness is short lived. The next day the police car is gone and the ner do wells are back. the shopping carts have stuff in them and a man with a sign walks wearily toward the corner wiping the dirt from his hand made poster board paper plaque and preparing for a days work of asking for money. The more things change the more they stay the same…

My first month at the Mirage in 1989 just after the place opened a man won a jackpot at one of the progressive machines took the winnings and ran off with the cocktail waitress leaving his wife in the hotel room. In 2018 security at a strip hotel is called to a room ..a couple was arguing so loudly other guests complained. In the first the offender wore a suit and tie in the second he wore a white tee shirt and dreads… The clothes change the date changes the city doesn’t. The City of Sin is still a bad place for couples with issues to go. The City of Sin is still the City of Sin..


early morning in the City of Sin – Royal Hopper

There is a casino in Vegas called The Linq..Modern and upscale as a remodel gets the Linq uswed to be the Quad and before that it was The Imperial Palace a symbol of the crass over the top style of old Vegas. The Imperial had a huge collection of old cars including Bonnie and Clydes bukket ridden automobile. The Linq is a sleek art deco remodel. A slick new skin on an old Vegas gambling house. BUT…. There are still black jack tables in this old time worn Dragon of Sin, regardless of what skin it wears there is still alcohol and cheesy obvious pomotions, and ladies of the evening. People still do things they dont remember and usually regret ….a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose and Vegas is vegas is Vegas….

The City of Sin is a concept as much as a place. It will be how it is regardless of how anyone feels about it. The wrapper may change. The buildings may be bigger and the neon brighter more sophiscated looking corporate suits may replace the gangster pin stripe but it is still the City of Sin and always will be…..
Love You Sinners take care



Desert Drive _ Royal Hopper


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 ???


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.


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.


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. .


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


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.


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 …

waiting at crosswalk

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