Can the marijuana industry change Las Vegas for the better?

Clark County is suing the pharmaceutical industry because of it’s role in the opioid epidemic. While medical marijuana has been instrumental in helping people addicted to pharmaceuticals, it still faces discrimination largely brought about by, you guessed it, the pharmaceutical industries. Combine that with kneejerk conservativism (and the Republicans and Democrats who remain in the pockets of that industry), it’s not difficult to understand the relentless attacks on this new industry that reaps billions nationwide.

Although Las Vegas legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use, it is still illegal for a travel business to operate marijuana tours because it ‘promotes’ marijuana usage.. Ultimately, it’s just another attack on free choice in a country allegedly formed to defend freedom.

One of the great traditions of Vegas is that there is no tradition in Vegas. Things can change in an instant. Casinos, no matter their historical significance, will get imploded to make way for apparently necessary parking lots.

The same is probably true of the industries in Las Vegas.

In the beginning, we were simply a railway town that happened to have gambling. Then, gambling became the bread and butter of Vegas and the whole town became addicted. Try to imagine a future for Las Vegas that does not include gambling! I bet you can’t. If Las Vegas were a person, we would plead with him to find another way to live before it destroys him. Let that person become a city and lack of responsibility becomes our heritage.

What would happen if this new industry came to dominate Las Vegas? Those addicted to the gambling past might see nothing but a future for lawbreakers. Others might see a new demographic of enviromentalists, scientists, and educators (like Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson who have written favorable things about cannabis and the cannabis industry) turning the desert into a an oasis of scientific research and industries that have yet to be discovered.

This is one of the reasons we should give the marijuana industry a chance.  


Experience the Vegas Apocalypse!

Last days of the Las Vegas Club, Girl’s of Glitter Gulch, and Mermaids.

The percentage of Los Angelenos moving from Southern California to Las Vegas is around 60%, and I am one of the percenters. I moved here three years ago and discovered a slightly different place than the glitzy, noisy, arcade ridden amusements that most settle into when they come for a weekend.

Let’s face it, too much exposure to the ‘ding-ding-ding’s’ of the casino can drive you crazy, so I found myself occasionally surprised when I learned of other places and venues that were not on the strip.  When I first came to town, my biggest challenge was finding a simple bookstore!  There are a few Barnes and Nobles and the Writer’s Block bookstore in downtown Las Vegas.

The question is, as more people move into Vegas, can a town built around the hospitality industry sustain itself? I don’t believe it can. There has to be other industries to carry the town in the event of occasional disasters, like the financial crises and the latest Mandalay Bay shooting, which put a cramp on tourism.

Now, although tourism may be down in the rest of the United States, it’s not down in Las Vegas. This creates the illusion that it will last forever and gives the powers that be enough incentive to not be progressive.

There are moments of hope:  downtown Las Vegas is now run on alternative energy and, like many cities around the country, participates in a bicycle sharing program that cuts down on pollution. We have some hi-tech industry moving in, along with companies like Tesla, but, in the end, until some of that hard earned casino money starts finding it’s way to better the school system, Vegas remains just a cheap place for rich people to use until they find it unusuable.

Vegas is changing. Vegas has always been changing! It’s always been in flux and, with the surge of Southern Californians into the city (a population, I might add, that is strong in political activism), hopefully we’ll see a change in the focus of this town.

Apocalypse is simply another word that means ‘revelation’.  The learning of a secret that no one has known until know.   When I say that I’ve experienced a ‘Vegas Apocalypse’, it means I learned something new about Las Vegas that’s impossible to know unless you live here.

This web site, and video diary,  ultimately leans in the direction of those who are new to this town. We’ll explore the attractions, of course, but, more important, address some of the challenges of living here as well as book and movie reviews, interviews with locals, and explorations into places you would not normally go if you relegated your time to the Las Vegas strip.

The Vegas Apocalypse is at hand! Let’s enjoy it while it lasts!



Sahara Hotel and Casino: Where the Beatles stayed and the Rat pack played.

The SLS Casino is located where the Sahara Hotel and Casino once stood.  hat was where the Rat Pack would go after their shows at the Sands (which is where the Venetian is now located).   The Rat Pack was made up of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and even Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. In fact, it was Lauren Bacall who first coined the term ‘Rat Pack’ when she saw Sinatra and friends walking past.

“Look at them, don’t they look like a rat pack!” she declared, and the term stuck.

The Beatles also stayed at the Sahara during their visit to Las Vegas.  They were originally scheduled to play at the Sahara, but the entertainment complex over sold the tickets!  Another venue was found at the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is now Sands Expo (located across from Wynn).

Staff of the Sahara brought slot machines and other arcade games to the Beatle’s floor.  The Beatles had an entire floor of the Sahara to themselves because they couldn’t really go anywhere.  Fans were even climbing the walls to the Sahara to reach them.  I have not read of an incident where a fan fell from the wall.  They must have been great climbers.

Ringo Starr’s handprints are located on Fremont Street at the El Cortez.  He came to Las Vegas for a ceremony called ‘Ringo Starr Day’ on March 15, 2015. This was held at the ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada’ sign on Las Vegas Boulevard near Mandalay Bay.  His hands were put in wet cement.

The impressions of Ringo Starr’s handprints would be placed in front of the El Cortez Hotel and Casino on August 8, 2014.

The Beatles only appearance in Las Vegas was at the location now known as the Sand’s Expo.

Ringo Starr occasionally plays in Las Vegas.


Ringo Starr and the Beatles honored in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas: City of Apocalyptic Amusements

Sam Boyd’s Fremont is where it all begins.  In addition to being where Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton, got his start at the young age of fifteen, it’s also where people used to gather on the rooftops to watch the atomic bombs blow up at the Nevada Test Site (which today is Nellis Air Force Base).

There are pictures at the National Atomic Testing Museum of people holding cocktails while the bombs blow up in front of them.  No concern about radiation poison was even raised.  Did the government lead them to believe watching radiation in action was safe? Or did the casinos even care to look into the matter?

We must remember where we are: Vegas!  Vegas is a place where people are allowed to do stupid things.  Entrance into the town is like agreeing to a tacit release form never to hold anyone responsible from the aftereffects of your personal choices.

Atomic testing stopped on July 17, 1962.  Testing still continued underground and, for years, underground testing was the subject of protests by scientists like Carl Sagan and actors like Martin Sheen and Kris Kristofferson.

The entire city was atomic in those days!  The star you see over the famous ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada’ sign does not allude to celebrity or Hollywood.  It’s a nod to the atomic bomb.  Atomic imagery was used to sell everything from resorts to Elvis Presley.  Elvis was billed as the ‘atomic powered singer’ when he made his Las Vegas debut at the age of 21 at the now deceased New Frontier.

Atomic worship has since been put to rest.  Today, the  fantasies of Vegas revolve around imagined  zombie apocalypse and preparing for war. You can fight the zombie apocalypse by signing in at the Zombie Apocalypse store and doing battle with zombies.  Or, you can bypass the zombie excuse and just engage in modern warfare by firing off machine guns at Battlefield Vegas.

There is still hope for those of us not inclined to violent entertainment.  Fremont Street East,  just a stone’s throw from the Neonopoulis, is being renovated as an arts and entertainment complex.  There are abandoned motels with murals that have been painted on them during our annual Life is Beautiful festival.

Life is Beautiful is held every year in September.  Come back next October, and I can almost guarantee you there will be different murals on the buildings.  My favorite is Corporate Welfare, which decorages the old Emergency Art’s building (now undergoing renovation.

Container Park is made from storage bins.  This is related to the sustainable housing movement.  There is also a private park for tiny houses next to this park.  Much of the renovation at Fremont Street East is because of Tony Hsieh and the Downtown project.  Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos, an online retailer of athletic shoe wear.  He is also a pioneer with the tiny house movement and you can see the airstream trailers Hsieh occasionally lives at which he calls “Llamapolis.”

Our city hall was the first government building in Las Vegas to operate on solar energy and now all thegovernment  buildings are operating on solar energy..

Two works of art, which premiered at Burning Man, are on display at Fremont Street East. The praying mantis in front of Container Park has fire shooting from his antennas.  This happens at dusk and, usually, there is a drum group assembled to wake him up.

Big Rig Jig, which showcases a huge truck somehow parked in a compact zone, can be seen in the sealed off lot of the Ferguson Motel.   Furgeson is  next to the Writer’s Block bookstore, which is the only independent bookstore in downtown Las Vegas.past the Atomic Liquor and Lounge (first package store/bar in Las Vegas, license number #00001), is the Furgeson Motel, site of another work that premiered at Burning Man.

Las Vegas has the reputation of not respecting its history.  That seems to be changing as places like the Neon Museum are saving old neon signs from imploded casinos, and antique stores on Main Street are selling pieces of living history that once dominated the town.

The federal government owns 80% of the state of Nevada.  This puts land at a premium in Las Vegas.  We cannot grow like normal towns which is why places of modern history (like the Riviera Hotel and Casino) must be imploded for new blood to take over.

It might be that only the rich can save Las Vegas, but if there is not a serious effort made toward alternative energy, and dealing with the water crises, how long can a city which is devoted to being ‘bigger and better than everyone else’ sustain itself?  Some have given in to ironic cynicism, others are amusing themselves with the tools of Armagedden, and some actually try to save the world.

Las Vegas, by virtue of just being itself, has always been a reflection of the best and worst of American society.