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A Savage Journey To The Heart Of The American Dream, Pt. 2: Winding Down In Vegas

Our last three days in Las Vegas.

Circus Circus

“That’s a new one. Someone just told me I look like the singer from Fine Young Cannibals.”

– A guy I was drinking with on Saturday night when I drunkenly mentioned that he looked like Gilbert Gottfried.

In my previous installment, I wrote about our arrival in Las Vegas, our first impressions and the general chaos that surrounds you here whenever you leave your hotel room. Well, I left the room a few more times.

Saturday, November 14, 2015
I got up and took a walk to the Miracle Mile shops in Planet Hollywood while Anna was at the conference, because we needed supplies, mainly soap and deodorant. When you’re in the middle of the desert for a few days, despite the fact that it hasn’t been particularly hot, you definitely need deodorant. Also, I guess it’s because it is so dry here, but I just keep generating an incredible amount of static electricity. My clothes stick to me in a figure-hugging way, the hairs on my arms stand up when I take clothes off and I get electric shocks every time I touch a metal surface.
I made a few small purchases, a cup of coffee, an adapter plug for the computer, all paid for using my credit card, because it costs US$6.00 every time you make a transaction at an ATM here. However, when I went to use the card at the pharmacy it was declined. American Express had gone into fraud-protection mode and blocked me, it’s a Singaporean card, so due to the time difference we couldn’t do anything about it. Luckily, the debit card worked. I returned to our room at the Flamingo in the middle of the afternoon, but the cleaner still hadn’t been and our room looked disgusting!

“When I came to, the general back-alley ambience of the suite was so rotten, so incredibly foul. How long had I been lying there? All these signs of violence. What had happened? There was evidence in this room of excessive consumption of almost every type of drug known to civilized man since 1544 AD. What kind of addict would need all these coconut husks and crushed honeydew rinds? Would the presence of junkies account for all these uneaten french fries? These puddles of glazed ketchup on the bureau? Maybe so. But then why all this booze? And these crude pornographic photos smeared with mustard that had dried to a hard yellow crust? These were not the hoofprints of your average God-fearing junky. It was too savage. Too aggressive.”


Auntie Susan, Uncle Bob, and Anna

Okay, maybe not quite as dire as Hunter S. Thompson‘s trip, just clothes and underwear strewn about the room, an unmade bed, the type of setting unfit for a trophy husband.
I cleared the room up a bit, wrote the first part of this blog and then it was off to meet Anna and her colleagues for some drinks after her conference, before meeting up with her Uncle Bob and Auntie Susan.

Anna’s uncle and auntie are really cool people. They live in Orange County, California, but they drove all the way to Las Vegas, about 450kms (280 miles), to see us for a few days and then are driving us back down to LA to hang out for the rest of the week. They’ve already planned to take us to Hoover Dam, an Anaheim Ducks NHL match and Universal Studios just to begin with!
We had a few beers, some buffalo wings and an enormous pretzel while we sat around chatting, but Anna had to go to a dinner with her professors that night and soon I was free to do my bidding. UFC 193 was on, Ronda Rousey was still undefeated and the event was at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. In fact, I had a few friends who attended the event. My old basketball teammate, Ben Murphy, sent me this picture:

UFC from Ben's perspective.

UFC from Ben’s perspective.

I, on the other hand, made my way back down to the Tilted Kilt, paid the US$20 cover charge and watched a great night of fights including, as you would certainly know unless you have been living in a cave, Rousey get her ass handed to her. When that went down, there was a moment of just stunned silence, a collective gasp and then the place broke out into a deafening roar.
I chatted with a few people in the bar for a while, then Anna texted me, so I met up with her and her friends, but they had all partied a little too hard at an event that had KC and the Sunshine Band playing. It was now about 2:00am and we had an early-ish start ahead of us the next morning for the factory outlets.

Sunday, November 15, 2015
“Don’t want to go, is it?”, Anna asked, reverting back to Singlish since she had been in the company of her friends. It was 9:30am, all of her friends were still jet-lagged from the flight over here and a few of them are morning-people anyway, and they had planned to go to the factory outlets at 10:00am. We arrived, shopped for a few hours and then met up again for lunch at Chipotle. I sat down and minded the bags while Anna went up and ordered, making the fatal error of adding beans to my burrito. Don’t get me wrong, I love beans, they just don’t like me.
We shopped for a little while longer and then Yvonne drove us home, a task that would prove almost impossible due to the entire strip being closed for the Las Vegas Marathon. When we finally got back to our hotel we relaxed for a bit, then there was a free party for the conference, which meant free drinks. We were there for about half an hour before I started to bloat, resembling a woman 8-months pregnant. My friends, the beans, had come back with all their mates to say hello.

Not a bad selection of cuts

Not a bad selection of cuts

I took care of the bean situation and soon it was time for dinner. We had reservations with the gang again at Wolfgang Puck‘s fine-dining steak venture, “Cut“. Dinner was great, the steaks (right) were amazing, but everyone except for Anna and myself were still jet-lagged, so they left and we went for a couple of drinks and lost a few bucks, literally three dollars, on the slots (your drinks are free if you play them at the bar) and then checked in for the night.

Monday, November 16, 2015
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas features a location I’ve always wanted to see, a place so gaudy, so tacky, that I had to witness it with my own eyes; Circus Circus.

“A drug person can learn to cope with things like seeing their dead grandmother crawling up their leg with a knife in her teeth, but nobody should be asked to handle this trip. Circus Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing every Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. This was the Sixth Reich.”

Anna had told me that she had stayed there one time when she was a child. She also knew that I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t check it out while we were in town, so she initially agreed we would go one night, but there was constantly something on each night for her conference, so I had to go by myself on Monday afternoon.
Circus Circus is exactly what you would imagine; A run down, circus-themed casino with games and circus performances in a building shaped like a circus tent in one of the worst parts of town. Walking around in there, it is almost impossible to believe that a place like this still exists, besides being a location to simultaneously amuse and torture children. It is dark and miserable with some of the most depressed-looking clowns you’ll ever see. How about I just let some pictures do the talking? Oh, and if you were wondering about the revolving bar from Fear an Loathing in Las Vegas, it has been turned into slots now:

I wanted to pick up a souvenir t-shirt, but they had nothing my size without glitter, so I grabbed a bunch of coffee cups before leaving, only to almost trip over what was possibly a corpse on the footpath out the front.

We were going to see Penn and Teller that night, but first I had some time to kill, so I headed back to the Flamingo to relax.
I have written before about how my favourite band is Ween, but I was never able to see them live before they broke up. While I was walking back to the hotel I decided for some unknown reason to have a quick look at Facebook, something I never do while walking, especially on the sketchier parts of the Las Vegas Strip. You can only imagine my surprise and excitement when I was greeted with this video:

I possibly let out a little squeal and power-walked back to the hotel to get tickets, there was no way I was going to miss one of these shows. Furthermore, they just happen to be on a public holiday weekend when two of Anna’s best friends are visiting from Singapore for a girls’ weekend away. Looks like a little “me time” will be happening, too.
When I looked at the tickets there were two options:

  1. A lottery system that didn’t guarantee tickets, or
  2. VIP packages for one or both shows

I also get one of these badass t-shirts!

To make sure I was going I got the VIP package for the Saturday night show, a package that includes in their own words:

  • One (1) 1-Day GA Floor ticket to Ween at 1STBANK Center
  • Admission to the Chocolate and Cheese Lounge with…. you guessed it, Chocolate and Cheese and a private cash bar!
  • Early entry into the venue
  • One (1) Limited Edition event poster signed by Gene and Dean Ween
  • One (1) VIP Parking Pass per order
  • One (1) Limited Edition Ween Merchandise gift

Unfortunately, I could only go to one show, but I’d pay anything for that opportunity. They added another show on the Sunday and it sold out in minutes! It’s going to be an incredible show, now I’ve just got to sort out flights, accommodation and a way to deal with winter in Denver.

Finally it was off to Penn and Teller. I’m not into magicians, but these guys are different, plus, I always loved their show, Bullshit and it is merely a coincidence that Penn Jillette has a cameo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. We met up with Anna’s Auntie and Uncle at the Marriott and then headed down to the Rio to join Yvonne and Don for the show. It was an amazing show, funny as hell and I recommend anyone who is in town to go see it. They even hang around after the show to meet the crowd:

” I hate to say this, but this place is getting to me. I think I’m getting the Fear.”

The night had to come to an end and we had to get up early the next morning to leave Las Vegas and make our way down to California.
Next stop: Orange County and LA.

Just a quick shout out to my best mate, Owen Howard: Congratulations on pulling off The Fish Dept, that was awesome news! If anyone is in the Docklands in Melbourne and feels like old-school fish’n’chips, check this place out and let me know how it is!


There’s going to be more than one of these joints, too!

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