2012 comes to its end tonight and I am reflecting on what a wonderful year its been for me.
2 years ago I started NEONVACTION.COM as a hobby and tribute of sorts to the greatest city Ive ever lived in or visited. The goal of starting the website, all along, was to help others enjoy Vegas as much as I do.
2011 was my test year. I spent that first year confused and frustrated as to the ins and outs of maintaining this site.
During the 2nd year, I believe Ive got some of the constant maintenance and content issues down or at least under control.
I still have huge plans and great ideas for the site. I am still confused quite a bit but what I want to reflect on is the great year I’ve had because of the effort.
In this past year Ive met some of the most amazing people due to the similar passion for this city. I would try to name every interesting person during the past years travels but I will miss one or two names and that would make me feel terrible. Instead I will throw everyone in a large nutshell, you will know if I am speaking about you.
In no order of importance, I have had the pleasure of meeting other website owners and operators, my favorite podcast personalities, magazine and newspaper writers, radio celebrities, television personalities and television producers. On many trips I have had lunch, dinner or just drinks with some of my favorite hotel and casino workers including dealers, concierges, desk attendants, security guards, bartenders, and room service employees. Ive sat down with some of my favorite bar and restaurant owners, great store owners, museum operators, awesome art directors, and even those that run the “behind the scenes stuff” of Vegas shows, large and small. Ive had opportunities to talk with authors, actors, singers, comedians, dj’s, professional gamblers, strippers, hookers and even (ex) mobsters. I cant tell you how I got lucky enough to meet these people, just that every single story told was interesting.
I have met Vegas admirers in my hometown of Minnesota and visited them in theirs.
Ive made great friendships and all of this is due to the same thing; we all enjoy the city of Las Vegas and believe its great.
As I move forward with this passion of mine, I have twice as many trips planned for the upcoming year, hope to make this the best website I can and hope to meet even more interesting Vegas enthusiasts along the way.
Thank you, Las Vegas, for all the friendships.
Happy New Year everyone.
In 1989 my best friend and I decided where we wanted to go to College, when we graduated.
I knew I wanted to stay in Las Vegas so UNLV for me, and he was going to try Reno(UNR).
That November, we started to notice blue shirts and red shirts popping up that read “FUNR and “FUNLV”
We both had no clue what these meant, but bought them anyway thinking they were funny. After wearing them to baseball practice we learned, from our coach, their meaning and origin of what is know as the Battle for the Fremont Cannon.
A 21 year old Elvis Presley, billed as "The Atomic Powered Singer", took the stage at The New Frontier's Venue Room. The year was 1956 and he already had the rest of the Country in awe not to mention holding the number one hit song "Heartbreak Hotel".
His name should have been shortened to just A BOMB because thats pretty much what happened. Apparently Las Vegas was not ready for Elvis...........yet.
For the next few years Elvis didnt do much, but make movie after movie, produce more number one hits, and become much more popular; Oh yeah and he served his Country for two years after being drafted into the United States Army. Presley's overseas service took place in Germany (October 1, 1958, until March 2, 1960) as a member of the 1st Medium Tank Battalion. He was a member of the Army reserves until discharged in 1964.
View the enhanced version(more pictures)
A new TV series will be hitting the air waves this fall, and more importantly its Las Vegas related. I enjoy reruns of the original “Vega$” with Robert Urich and “Crime Story” when I can catch them, and the more recent “Las Vegas” as well, I try to catch the reality COPS style “Vegas Strip” on TruTV and never miss one of Travel Channel’s out dated, Vegas based shows (the kind they seem to have on every other week). If your anything like me; you like the wild history behind Las Vegas and the characters that made Vegas, Vegas. So I suspect I will like this new show as well. Its to be called “Vegas” (huh, that’s original). The show's theme will be the molding of Las Vegas while Sheriff Ralph Lamb was at the helm. Some say he was a controversial figure and others worshiped him. Hopefully the series sticks somewhat close to reality so we can judge for ourselves.
With 30% of Nevadans being of Mexican background, I suspect Cinco De Mayo is a larger festival in the Las Vegas Area then most other tourist destination.
Once again we would like to help the celebratory crowd enjoy their vacations and maximize the party experience (as we do).
Its not hard to find a Mexican, or a Mexican themed restaurant. So, It really shouldn't be hard to put together a Cinco De Mayo Pub-Crawl, but we like doing this so let us do it for you.
If its nostalgic Mexican restaurants your looking for, the first name on our list would be EL SOMBRERO. Located between the Strip and Downtown at 807 S Main, it's the oldest restaurant in Las Vegas.Not just Mexican restaurant, but oldest all around restaurant. If you've worked Downtown or just enjoy good Mexican you've been to El Sombrero. There isn't much of a party atmosphere here, but the food is excellent and the historic factor makes it a must visit, on Cinco De Mayo or not. Mayor Oscar Goodman was a regular at El Sombrero when in office. (His wife visits too, we're told).
Hot Dogs!, Get Yer Hot Dogs Here!
Growing up and being at the ballpark as often as possible I could have dined on hot dogs three times a day, covering each meal, and then one as a snack before bed.
Probably the reason I have such a fondness of the perfect snack today. I do love a great steak, or pasta from the kitchen at Casa Di Amore(shameless plug for my favorite Italian in Vegas), but give me a good hot dog and all's right with the world for those next few minutes.
Whats a “good” hot dog mean to me? It means 100% beef, well cooked and or steamed correctly, it means a bun the way you enjoy it, and it means quality toppings all at a reasonable price for the situation. Simple.
I will eat a 15-dollar hot dog at Serendipity 3 if I find myself hungry while spending outrageous money anyway in the Caesar shops. On the other hand, I will enjoy a one dollar hot dog, sipping a dollar and a half Budweiser at The Stage Door bar while watching the freak show pass by the windows at three in the morning, after a night of winning blackjack half a block up on the Strip.
On March 17th most people wont consider celebrating the efforts of one Saint named Patrick coming to this country, back in the 1700s, to turn all the wicked Pagans to Christianity. Most will just use the day as an excuse to try out their (bad) accent and impersonations and drink as much as they can. I’m as Irish as one gets and, unfortunately, I will be no exception.
There is an Irish saying that goes “St Patrick’s Day consists of the night of March the seventeenth flavored strongly with the morning of the eighteenth”. That being true, there’s no better place in my opinion to celebrate this day then Las Vegas.
I wish restaurants and bars would begin advertising their parties and St. Patrick's Day specials well in advance so visitors can plan ahead, but that’s just me. So as the day grows closer Ill add to this list of the events I can uncover. So read it two or three more times before the Holiday hits us.
The Mob, Syndicate, Mafia, Mobsters, Gangsters, Goodfellas, Wise-guys, Cosa Nostra or even Organized Crime “Family”. Known by many different names, they’ve had a large part in building this country. Now, along with Law Enforcement, they have a museum to show just how large that piece of history was.
On Feb. 14th 2012 “The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement” opened, where else but, in Las Vegas Nevada...... PICTURE/VIDEO VERSION
FLAMINGOS to VOLCANOES, PIRATES to PRINCESSES there are themes around every corner in Vegas.
Everywhere you look there’s a theme, Vegas was built on themes and false fronts.
You’ll find more themes in Las Vegas then anywhere in the world, and the new trend seems to be the relationship of music with food and drink
Its always sad to see an older establishment close its door in Vegas. This establishment is no exception, the WESTERN Casino and Hotel ?(I guess) will be closing after the New Years... so make your plans now to be a part of the last big hoorray there. All joking aside, It seems once Im comfortably back at home from a trip and browsing the web, I read about a closing, implosion or implosion before even an opening (see HARMON TOWER).
This trip ended a week ago and I read about the Western today.
This personal phenomenon dates way back to News Year of 1998 I stayed in a Hotel called World Trade Center, Jan. 1st rolled around and we woke and drove back to Phoenix and didn’t think about that place again until a couple weeks later I read it was soon to close. In the following years the closings continued with the Westward Ho, Stardust, New Frontier, Boardwalk, Lady Luck, Sahara and right on down the line. If I haven’t stayed in a "soon to be closed" Casino I feel the need to rush back to Vegas to fulfill my part of history by staying there at least for a night. I’ve made it to many, but to be honest in this case I wont be so quick to book, not because I wont miss it but because I have spent well over my share of time in this place.
I went to school about 5 blocks from the Western, and that's the spot I learned all I needed to know about the seedier side of casinos, casino dealers, bartenders and cocktail waitresses. Yes, It was a little nicer 15 years ago and yes it is a SHIT HOLE now, but nothing (with the exception of BINGO) has changed in there through out the years.
Their popular one dollar Black Jack and Craps was how I learned to play both, and sports were always on their tvs after school, making it easy for me to learn parlay cards, money lines and point spreads, at age 17.
So Thank you Mr. Jackie Gaughan for opening the worlds largest BINGO Parlor back in 1970.
Jackie Gaughan sold the hotel in March 2004 and then there were some plans to remodel or renovate the property but nothing has happened since then but deterioration. In 2004 the place was sold once again to the current owners (Tamares Group) and more plans of renovations were talked about, although nothing came from those talks either.
The Western employs about 90 workers; some could be chosen to work for the other two properties Tamares owns, PLAZA and LAS VEGAS CLUB. Hopefully a large percentage of them get the chance.
What about renovations, you ask?
The Tamares Group did say they are open to redevelopment ideas for the spot the WESTERN sits on. Issuing this statement ""Due to decreased demand at this location, Tamares Real Estate will be closing the Western Casino, effective Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, for an indefinite period of time and will review redevelopment plans." Adding "We remain extremely confident about the long-term success of downtown Las Vegas. The closure of the Western does not change the commitment Tamares has to the area, In fact, just the opposite is true. We believe that the ongoing redevelopment of the nearby East Fremont Street district and other exciting downtown developments and partnerships will continue to enhance the area around the Western, and we look forward to future growth.".
I agree, consider the Mob Museum, Oscars and The new MOB BAR opening very soon, and the great success of the Vegas Streats food truck meetups, different artistic shows, and Pub Crawls and various street parties, this area has much to be proud of. They (Oscar and company) spent over 5.5 million to re beautify this area and it seems to be working.
The GOLDEN NUGGET and PLAZA downtown went through great renovations recently with GOLDEN GATE working on some now, also ELCO and GOLDEN SPIKE both fixed up there properties recently to stay in competition with the downtown upgrades. The ex-LADY LUCK just announced their plans to completely redo their look and start over as the "DOWNTOWN GRAND".
I don’t see why the Western shouldn’t at least slop some paint on itself, update their employee uniforms, sweep out the 40 plus years of spilled beer and blood maybe get a new chair or two, and get back in the mix with these places. Downtown is trying to make a comeback of sorts and I would appreciate moving back to a town I called home 15 years ago.