lizzie.JPG

Chicken Nachos never taste as good as you remember or live in the present

 

By Royal Hopper

 

It winter early 2018 and wind is blowing through the desert town like an angry spirit looking for a place to vent its winter angst on unsuspecting visitors. Its not really cold this is the desert but the wind is blowing into your face is dry and biting.
You and your significant other of nearly 24 years are tired and hungry proving the axiom that vacations and week end get aways are sometimes more exhausting than work can possibly be.
The idea was to walk down to the steak house at the end of the boulevard and treat yourself to a monthly dose of red meat and baked potatoes. Your mind is excited but your middle aged body has other ideas. Your memory screams steak….steak ….steak but your body says F that lets go to the closest place and eat whatever..

 

IMG_6097

The sun setting over the Caribbean -Royal Hopper

Just another half mile screams memory and you get a great once in a blue moon steak…..

Unable and unwilling to walk further despite the ambition that memories of youth scream at you disappears as with that unspoken agreement that only out of being together for a long time kicks in and you turn to the Belle ….and walk into the sports bar there to eat whatever they have…There is conversation because it is polite and you love each other but there is an unspoken sigh as you order Chicken nachos..
Surprise they are perfect ..tasty ..perfectly made crunchy and mouth watering …
The day is suddenly good as you share the perfect chicken nachos with your beloved …the world disappears for a moment and for a moment it is just you and her and your waitress. You finish your meal and walk away from the restaurant holding hands with a smile on your face and a memory that makes you want to go back….2018-07-24 18.36.42.jpg
Flash forward months later ..It is summer unspeakably hot like a giant blow dryer was built by space aliens turned invisible and placed over the city you visit just to make you hot and miserable.
Your middle aged common sense is telling you to turn around and just go eat at the Cafe in your hotel but the memory of the perfect chicken nachos an dholding hands with your beloved as the PA playes music popular when you were young drives you on ..You must have those perfect Nachos ……you must …
You push yourself to keep walking ..step by step toward your destination ,,,which you tell yourself is restaurant with great Nachos but is in fact ..a memory ..that’s what you are chasing a memory ….


You walk carefully into the colorfully named Colorado Belle across the casino and to the bar where the worlds best chicken nachos are served and then to the table in the colorfully themed casino full of anticipation and nervous excitement….This is something you have been waiting for weeks …months really ..and of course you order the perfect chicken…and then to your horror ..THEY ARE OKAY..not perfect…not …even great ..just okay ..tasty enough for bar food ..


Your disapointed and the memory is tarnished a bit ,,,,but you still end up leaving the bar hand in hand with your beloved ..sometimes today is better than a memory..not often but sometimes…Will you go back ..probably when the memory tarnished by the second chicken trip has faded and the memory of the perfect chicken nachos has reasserted itself.
The moral of the story is that nothing is ever as good as you remember even if it is it and it never will be…every moment is unique …Let the memories be memories and live in the right now because that is all there really is …
It is dangerous to live for memories or to expect them to suddenly expect them to be real or happening again because it it will never happen exactly the way you remember…
Love You Sinners
Royal

ducks on ice 4.JPG

igauna looking at

I will call this guy Fred. He was lounging on the docks adjacent to the cruise Oasis of the Seas in the Caribbean on St Thomas I think….aint he cute …Photo by Royal Hopper …If you want it throw me a couple of bucks

There is in the creative soul a constant argument …a war if you will raging in the Bohemian mind between the need for self expression unfettered by schedules, definition or anything as pedestrian as results ….and the need to live in the real world and create something permanent the mundanes will appreciate ..for discipline ..for precision if you will ..It never stops and goes on still…

Precision versus expression or the touch and feel versus the brain

 

By Royal Hopper

I have always cooked more by feel than recipe ..as more of an art than a science or a craft ..Usually I’m pretty good .The food I make is tasty and unique if not overwhelmingly presentable in the Chef ahole kind of way …Its good..I hate excessive measuring and prissy hyper precision and usually I’m dead on . Usually my food tastes good..

IMG_5630

A dude with a bag of stuff on a Caribbean Island last month – Photo by Royal Hopper

Not so much this time ..I made a pot of beans and sausage and rice ..a simple enough meal .,,,exactly what it sounds like ……From the beginning there were problems
The freaking pressure cooker didnt seem to want to work and I was behind schedule late with the beans and rice ..and when it came of of the cooker… iT looked giood but it was ..Salty beyond words ..icky ….in my haste I had put a little to much chicken bullion not realizing that salt was the primary in some flavors of chicken bullion in the mix and together with the shake of season salt and two teaspoons of real salt ..it was salty
I should have paid more attention I should have read the labels more closely ..I should have measured the damn bullion rather than using my feel or somehow veiwing cooking beans as an art of self expression …Its like in the casinos I have worked in and the newspapers. I have worked in.. there is a way of doing things ….
Two sources in a hard news story and three are better ..Only use unnamed sources to legitimately protect life and limb and corroborate what you are told…and answer who what when where how and why to the best of your ability ..In casinos follow the gaming rules and only break house protocols when life and limb dictate they must be broken. When asked what happened say exactly what happened no more …no less…..and follow the simple recipe when making beans and sausage and rice.In government its much the same. there is no room for touch and feel only know and do….breaking 230 years of protocols without good reason doesn’t make you a rebel or “your own man” it makes you an idiot bound to fail.

IMG_5400

The band Private Stock rocks the cruise ship Oasis of the Sea on a Caribbean cruise last month —–

Beans and rice is a simple meal …cook and rice….put the beans in the pot..some sausage..a couple of teaspoons of bullion a dash of season salt and few herbs and some onions… ..Cook until the beans are soft por over rice and serve. Journalism and casinos are more complicated than that..Governing a modern democracy with the worlds most powerful military is the most complicated thing a person can do…..It is not something that you can touch and feel your way through…

IMG_5427

My wife looking out at the Sea on our cruise ship

Continuing with the beans and rice and sausage reccipe….Only use as much salt, seasonings and bullion as you need which is m=never more than a couple of tablespoons of the concentrated stuff or a half can of the real stuff….. …let the beans and the sausage provide the taste ..dont overwhelm the recipe with your feelings……Just make a good meal..That is ther goal ….Like in journalism the object is to make a good dtory thb at tells the truth in an interesting way but doesnt do anything else ..or in a casino ..make sure the business of the place is done in peace and go home at the end of the day ….
It is a life lesson I learned long ago in small town journalism and casino security I wished had paid attention to today making the beans…Honesty is sometimes more important than art or ego….Sometimes people and nations need to stop cooking by feel and do the smart thing ,,,the right thing ….Food and journalism cannot be done by feel and Government most certainly cannot ..
Thats life everwhere and in the City of Sin
Love you Sinners
PS I added water and made the beans into soup and it came out pretty good

crowded beach

Meghans Beach a famous beach on St Maarten —

a suset

Sunset of the Caribbean…Photo by Royal Hopper

It rained this week..poured …like a Gulf Coast thunderstorm after a week of scorching and for a few sacred hours it was sultry warm and moist in the City of Sin…a bone chilling 90 degrees bad pun intended…..

The Sun changes everything

 

by Royal Hopper
This time of year in the desert is the time of unforgiving heat high winds and dry, dry air. taking a walk here is a little like living under a giant blow dryers. When those Santana winds start blowing the spaces between all the neon palaces scattered around this bastion of decadent artificiality becomes hostile enough to even put a dog off eating scraps….Here is what I mean.IMG_20180710_132927.jpg
My dogs all three of them will eat anything on the ground ..week old hotdogs …chicken wings that have been lying in the shrubs for days ….a piece of a hamburger she stole from a pigeon ..anything edible mind you …. One of the most raveneous of my three canine friends came upon a pile of leftovers laying on the asphalt while out on one of our daily walks …….someone probaly in a drunken state and simply dropped their lunch on the ..then ground and left it days before. It had baked in the desert sun for days of 100 plus degree days on the asphalt … Reddy, the dog’s name, took a brief sniff of the petrified food sniffled, growled a little ..sneezed a little and walked away …
When its 112 degrees in the desert and you can fry a 12 ounce Porterhouse on the hood of the derelict Toyota parked and ten minutes outside makes you feel like moving to Canada for the summer…it tends to take the romance and mystery out of living in the City of sin.

frozen

“Frozen” on a cruise ship Oasis of the Sea_ Royal Hopper

When a pigeon normally so shy you cant get within five feet of it before it flies away raises its wings and arches its back like its going to fight you for the spot of shade it has found

Dogs seem to have a philosophy like the old joke…If you cant eat,, screw it or talk to it ..if it smells bad and hurts you when you chew on it and makes you sneeze ..piss on it and walk away….
What does all this mean.. It means its the desert and it gets hot in the summer genius …thats all ..

IMG_5201

A pigeon with a bum leg begging for food from tourists in the Bahamas ..Royal Hopper

Thats life in the City of Sin
Love You Sinners
you know its hot ….

There is an old saying that goes something like and please forgive my language on this … you never bullshit a bullshitter …

flat on rock igauana

This iguana photographed on the docks in St Thomas seems to be saying and I aint moving – Royal Hopper

The cruise,  the bait’and the lesson

by Royal Hopper
Its probably something a young French woman on the Carribbean island of St Maarten might have done well to remember.
Long story short..The wife and I went on a Caribbean Cruise in the you know Caribbean. It was a wonderful once in a lifetime vacation …One of the stops was an Island called St. Maarten. Its half Dutch and half French if you can believe it. That is something like something being half in New Jersey and half in Montreal but it works I guess….

elton john imitation

Private Stock the ships rock band on the Oasis of the Seas pays tribute to Elton john during a show on board -Royal Hopper

She was quite fetching this young French beauty ..if she even was French as we were on the Dutch side of the Island. She had the tan of a professional beach bum the kind of tan caucasion people only get when they live on the beach. Her clothing was just corny and tie dyed enough to set you at ease…
I live in Las Vegas and when the young woman walked up to me and my wife and began her promotional pitch I had already heard it so many times from time share salesman and hos and con men I could have repeated from memory without rehearsal because the pitch of a con man and and a salesman is very similar. She even managed to flutter her eyes at me flerting without taking her eyes off my beloved. She was good this one….
Here take these scratch offs she said and we did and scratch off all the card …and low and behold one of the cards was a grand prize…..

frozen couple on ice

Frozen takes to the ice on Oasis of the Seas Caribbean tour_ Royal Hopper

“If you go to the presentation you get a prize and I get a commission,” she said This young woman in sales and con man parlance is called the greeter or the meeter or the bait some such thing. The greeter gets their attention and some kind of gimic and gets then to go to a sales meeting selling time shares or condos or to get robbed. She kept repeating how she was practicing her English.
“No thank you,” we said handing the cards back to her. She looked downtrodden and wondered what she was goign to do with the cards.
“You can give them to someone,” we said putting on our best air of Sin City indifference as we walked on.reggae band port bahamas.JPG
Had we taken the appointment we would have gone to the second step of the sales/con process… The Setter ..teh set up man etc etc ..The person who sets the couple up for as sale nd then the closer the person who closes the deal ….the sale or who takes your down payment and runs off with it …

Remember that folks ..the greeter or Bait followed by the Setter followed by the closer and when your instincts tell you its a con listen to them …We did

Thats life on a Caribbean Cruise in city of Sin and everywhere

Love you Sinners

IMG_5190

Here is a woman paying the bills by braiding hair and the beautiful woman sitting down is my wife- Royal Hopper

IMG_5633

and there is always the poor

buy bike

A dude and his bike _and let me emphasize these are random photos from the city not friends or actors….. Royal Hopper

In this city something a simple as a drive to work can be a mystery in the making

 

Royal Hopper

 

You pull up to one corner on a sun baked Sin City byway and the first thing that catches your eye is a man bent over by age and exahaustion bending over his walker un-moving and unaware.
No one in the lane of cynical jaded Sinners seems to notice the not moving elder holding on to his walker bent at the waist his body leaning down well below the top of his metal framed skeleton of the device that helps him walk.
Is he even alive ?????
The light turns and you move on
Taking care to look over as you do

guys waiting for work.JPG
A little further down the road a young woman in purple with a long skirt walks down the side of the avenue holding her dress to her thing with one hand as if she isnt wearing anything under it ..her hair is done up in a purple ribbon ..her make up thick and obvious and afternoon sun and the dry heat of the desert wind are givign this chick hell as she tries to make her way down the road ..
Who is she what does she do ??? Should you stop to help……?????
The light turns and you move on
Taking care to look over before you do

irony.JPG
You see a man sifting through a trash bin with an intensity usually reserved for grade B action movies …He comes upon one treasure and tosses it aside and his intensity increases as he gets deeper in the trash can .. he looks positively dangerous as he nears the bottom of the bin looking for something …Food ???? Cans ????clothes ????whatever ????
Still further you see a man moderately well dressed lying face up legs pointed in opposite directions exspenive sunglasses at an odd angle covering his eyes and half his face. …..He looks gone for sure …
The light changes and you drive on ..taking care to glance over as you do
What happens in the end….?

flags at trailer place.JPG
As you look over each time you see the man in the walker wakes up when the light changes and he is clear to walk across the road. You see him a few days later holding his sign at the same corner checking his watch for the next nap time perhaps???
Who is the woman in purple. Maybe she is a cocktail waitress in a sleazy bar on her way home to care for her 12 kids..maybe …maybe shes a member of the purple club on her way to the monthly meeting ….or shes a Ho ..taking a brake in the action
Before you move on down the road the man in the trash bin finds something holds in the air triumphantly puts it in a bag and walks back to his car ..?? You got me ??? WTF

As you pull away from the well dressed man …One of Las Vegas finest saunters up to him and nudges him awake ..Seeing that the nudger is a Las Vegas cop he stumbles to his feet waving his hand as if to say yeah ..yeah Im moving and stumbles down the road …..

That is life in the City of Sin and everywhere else ….What does it mean .?? Like the Ozmann sayeth Don’t ask me….. I don’t know …

urban sign jungle.JPG

IMG_5037

Just another denizen of the City of Sin crossing the street – Royal Hopper

Faith is for Lovers Priests and Poets

by Royal Hopper

Faith is a wonderful thing for lovers, priests and poets but it has little place in the every day functions of normal life and almost none in my City the City of Sin…The Jedi are wrong about this Knowing is almost always better than feeling and adapting is almost always better than hoping in this bizarre city and I suspect in most of the world…
Always ask questions and always seek the answers that true not the ones others want to tell you or the ones you want to hear

I once heard of tour group leader who frustrated by his groups tardiness to their points of departure and arrival always told them all his bus was going to leave at a much earlier time than it was scheduled to depart. One tour member objected pointing out that he and his wife had reservations for a show that was due to let out 30 minutes before departure time and he didn’t want to miss the show. After much debate the tour leader finally admitted the tour would indeed leave at the scheduled time and the guest could go to the show….Question Everything …but with logic …. . Try to know why and when and where things work not just how…..Hurt matters to us.JPG

So many times I seen people ditched in this City because they trusted to much or had faith in the wrong person…If you cant trust a person with your life..don’t trust them with your money your time or breakfast cereal.
If you cant turn your back them ..don’t…

I can still remember the man who came to the security podium at the old Riviera complaining about the girl (in other words the Ho) ho had rolled him. “I thought she was a nice girl,” he said shuffling his feet and looking at the floor. “I thought she was attracted to me,” he tried to say. “Dude was older than me.” I managed not to giggle and say you have known better…..

slot machines

These machines are called bandits in old Vegas slang – Royal Hopper

Its easy to be taken in by the obvious in this city ….You see a woman showing to much skin with a drink in her hand and studded leather jacket and you think Ho..but be careful there are soccer Moms who dress like Hos and Hos who dress like soccer Moms ..the smart ones anyway ……The point is appearances can be deceiving don’t trust them.

That is life in the City of Sin and elsewhere

Love You Sinners

 

 

IMG_5041

A scooter a lady a political sign and a red sweater in the summer _ Royal Hopper

Some things have meaning far beyond the bottom line of the price tag they bear….

 

by Royal Hopper
I remember a woman who was upset because a wine bottle opener was missing from her room.
“It wasnt expensive but it was a reminder of a special day on a special trip,” she said pointing out that all her jewelry was still there in the safe. No one seemed to understand or care about the value of the missing keepsake and what it meant to her she related.
There are always things we take care of because we have to because they are a practical benefit to our lives…….houses, cars , clothes , shoes etc etc etc..

scenery

Suburban Las Vegas a personal injury attorney, a pool supply store and adult book store and a storage locker –Royal Hopper

But it is also a fact of human existence that there are things that mean something to us for strictly emotional reasons ..a beloved pet that reminds us of something in ourselves or gives us something to love when the world seems hateful and doomed, perhaps concert from the best show we ever saw with a beloved significant other or a memento of a better time when we were younger or happier …or just safe.
Many times over the years as a reporter or casino security I have written about things a person has lost. Almost never did they cry or rage about the $100 they kept in a sack or the Armani suit missing from the closet ……They wept or raged about a reminder or picture of a lost loved one or of a better day in their lives or that special day they don’t want to forget. The things near to a persons heart  are what they value.IMG_5047.JPG

I remember writing story about a charity started in memory of a mother who had died far to young ..She was organizing a charity to help end the disease that had eneded her mother’s life. I remember the tears that flowed as she told of the times her mother would wait for her to walk out to the family car after school and turn the wind shield wipers on because she was to sick to get out of the car and wave at her .

I remember she clutched something in her hand and would not let go of it some keepsake of her mom _ a memory she could not let go of.
I remember the closing I used went something like ..She pauses struggling to hold back the tears brought on by of a decade of hugs she missed out on, a decade of morning phone calls she used to roll her eyes at ..ten years of trips to the mall and ten years of struggling to find a good mothers day present and finally failing as the tears burst forth like a torrent as she clutched the photo like a talisman of memory.
Once I remember a guest at a hotel I worked at raging at many items missing from her room and then smiling through grateful tears after two pictures of a loved one were returned.
I remember a set of keys that a macho male guest admitted were used to unlock doors that didn’t exist anymore and the awkward guy hug he tried to give me for returning them to him. They meant somethign to him. IMG_5023.JPG

My wife has an old piece of pottery her mother made years ago before she died from breast cancer some ten years or so before. Tears still come to her eyes if she holds them long enough as the memories threaten to burst forth.
The next time you roll your eyes at someone who complains about a keep sake they have lost .think back and remember something that meant something to you…something that did not pay the bills or polish the car but none the less meant something to you ..to the emotional childish part of you that you suppress to live in this insane carnival of a world.
They are things that remind us there is more to life than things ….or status and mortgages and payments ..that once these things are paid the real living begins …that like it or not we are far more defined by those moments and things than any symbol of status or wealth….
That’s life in the City of Sin and everywhere else too

guy and girl at corner.JPG