Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Vegas Vacation: Not Helping the Gaming Economy At All

Eleven day in Vegas... set foot in only one casino so far. Didn't even gamble.

Spending what little money we have in a much better way. It may not have all the cultural offering of LA, NYC or even ATL, but Sin City sure has more then what people expect. And even more then when we left it 9 months ago.

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On a completely different note...

... seen at a Utah gas station. I didn't have the heart to hassle the cashier. Was she on the Defence Dept. Quiki-Mart mailing list?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Art Galleries, Vintage Pinball Machines, Cheap Movies, and "Obstacle Art": Vegas Vacation

I did a quick hit & run of some of the Vegas art galleries Thursday. Dust Gallery, G C Gallery and the Funkhouse. The local art scene is continuing to build on previous successes, with the art event "First Friday" now averaging 7,000 people each month. I'm hoping to hit June's "First Friday", coming up on the 2nd.

The city’s City of 100 Murals project has loads of buildings sporting new art and the arts district is slowly filling with new galleries. One loss to the area is the collection of small apartment cottages currently home to artist Dray and his gallery Dray's Place. The lot just sold 3 million and is to be demolished for a 42-story condo building.

What a wonderful time-suck the Pinball Hall of Fame & Pinball Museumis. We just wandered the place for 10 minutes before even settling on the first game. The 3 tween girls wandering the aisles were funny: they were overheard saying, “Let’s go back to the movie theater, I don’t feel safe in here.” But the lure of the machines was too much and they were last seen playing a mechanical driving game unmolested by prowling pervs.

This was my second visit, the first time I played some games there, and not the last. Seriously good fun. You have to love a museum that doesn’t close until 11pm most weekdays and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

We were almost late to the dollar theater, where we saw “American Dreamz.” The dark satire wasn’t as sharp as it could be, but definitely a well-spent $2.50

Sunday was spent with friends. The first part of the day we were playing Obstacle Art Golf at the Commerce Street Studios. The 12-hole course was $3 to play, fun to look at and a nice way to kill some time on a Sunday.

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And now for something completely different…

...getting to read the free Vegas weeklies reminds me I’ve forgotten how strange the city can be. We are trying to get an artist/art professor friend of our to call the number for the following ad, in the May 18th Las Vegas Weekly.

“Artist: Rare opportunity for female artist. Paid, F/T sculptor apprentice. Life size female nudes. Unusual medium. 2yr commitment. Salary + benefits, some travel. Spanish and/or Manderin helpful but not required. Possible live-in. Work is extremely dirty and brutal but is fulfilling& sexy, international, abeit obscure recognition.

Candidate: Female only, unencumbered, intellegent, focused, responsible, tough, broad artistic background. Comfortable w/ tool, dirt, nudity, deadlines. Must love the female form. Be studious, teachable, commited to artistic lifestyle. Age, race, orientation unimportant. Stamina & perserverance is. Call (702) 631-4456 (eves. Only for interview.) Portfolio Helpful"

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Long and Winding Interstate Highways

Atlanta – Upstate NY - Vegas… 5 days, 4,952 miles.

The trip was long, the wife cute, the cat well behaved and the car worry-free. Which was nice since the air-conditioning was fixed a day before our departure. I’ll be posting a recommendation about our Atlanta mechanic later. For now it’s will be a recap of the roadside attractions that led up to our arrival in Vegas.

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The RV Hall of Fame, Elkhart, IL

The main attraction at the RV Hall of Fame is the collection of vintage travel trailers and motorhomes. It’s worth the trip, as many of the travel trailers on display can be walked through. Since most were used as rolling vacation homes (or just a home, as one was) they show some wear-and-tear to be expected.

While there is a suggested donation, one is not required to get in. The current RV Hall of Fame requires a meandering drive through Elkhart. The actual Hall of Fame is a photo gallery of men and women who helped make the RV industry what is it today. One volunteer was excited about the new 6.8 million dollar expansion. It will double the exhibition space, and the future site is now being constructed is visible from the I-80. It will be housing the existing collection as well as 32 new additional RV’s

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Carhenge, North of Alliance, NE

Takes Stonehenge.
Move it to Nebraska.
Change all the stone megaliths to cars.
Paint grey.

Planted in a broad field, this monument to the American motorcar grows. While appearing precarious, all the vehicles looks secure in place. When we first arrived we were the only car in the small gravel parking lot. But before we left, a trio of older folks and a couple of younger girls arrived to gawk.

Additional sculptures such the “Four Seasons”, a covered station wagon pulled by two motors and a leaping fish made from car parts are further away from the central area.

Incomplete signage onroute means just following the sighs will take you in the wrong direction. If you’re not on the 67 you’re not in the right place.

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Ames Brother Pyramid, In Wyoming, off the I-180

When I talked to my folks after seeing the Pyramid, they asked if it was on TV. Apparently a car commercial has it being visited by hip kids using their product. The pyramid was a memorial to the Ames Brothers who aided in finding funding for the railroad heading west. Tracks went by this site at one time, giving passengers a view of the monument. Now only a broad dirt road lead to it.

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Lincoln Highway Monument, Off I-80

An unplanned stop at a highway reststop led to this monument to the Lincoln Highway. It was first highway route that unified a collection of roads into a multistate system.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Monday in Vegas

Monday in Vegas.

It didn’t take long to reacquainted with places and sights I liked in Las Vegas. A quick two hour drive around town started down the Vegas strip. The bright sun let me take in the full visual explosion that’s the result of gambling's success.

A quick trip to the Red Rooster Antique Mall had me looking over country-cute crap and over-priced Vegas memorabilia. The casinos ashtrays were catching my eye, but their prices kept me moving. $125… I don’t think so.

I did leave with a copy of the Art’s District’s newsletter and a flier for Miss Exotic World 2006. Sponsored by an former burlesque dancer, Dixie Evans owns a California ranch that houses the Exotic World Burlesque Museum with mementos and pictures of dancers from long ago. Ther are plans for the collection to be relocated to a dedicated museum in Las Vegas (how great would it be to have that one on the art installation resume). The yearly competition has girls from all over the globe coming in to shake their thing and be crowned queen of burlesque for the year. Margaret Cho will be hosting the event. Might I be going? The wife doesn’t sound totally opposed.

The arts newsletter told of a show called Obstacle Art Course”, a collection of miniature golf holes created by artists. If I don’t make it to Ms. Exotic World, I think gallery golf could tide me over if I am itching for an extra-curricular activity.

The part of the drive spent in rush hour traffic was rewarded by a short visit to the Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame & Pinball Museum. The off-strip site offers none of the glamour and glitz that casinos have to offer, but with all vintage machines playable it’s a better place to put your quarters. I walked the aisles of machines, just taking them in. On the wall is the letter proudly displayed that says that the museum is recognized as a non-profit. That had been the goal of the collection’s owner for years. Now part of that dream has come true. It will be interesting to see where it can take the museum now.

The last of the drive took me past the Guardian Angel Cathedral near the Wynn Resort. Wynn imploded the Desert Inn Casino to make his new place. It was the previous owner of the DI that gave the land to the Catholic Dioceses where the Cathedral was built in the 1963 . Its architect was Paul Williams who also designed the La Concha Hotel. While only the distinctive office of the La Concha still stands, the cathedral is not in danger. In addition to its swooping lines, the stained glass inside depicts the Sands, the Desert Inn and one other casino, all gone now. The stained glass artist Isabel Piczek decided that the church should reflect its environment. The fact that I had never visited the church before surprises me only because it has all the things I love, modern architecture, and a strange quality of sacred and profane. Closed when I drove by, I plan on visiting and taking some pictures if possible.

Friday, May 19, 2006

More Tales from the Road: Rock Spring WY is Awesome!


Seriously wickedly awesome!!!

The guy at the booth who couldn't stop scratching his head and pacing...

The restaurant employee (drunk) telling the cashier that he was accused of stealing $100.

The hotel bathroom that says, "For Your Safety Please Note Bathtub Elevation".

I can't wait to leave Rock Springs, WY just to tell people to visit Rock Spring, WY!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Big Trip, Going West, Very Tired

Trying to keep the eyes open. So much driving, so much America.

A wish that the cute communities cooed over could be moved to a place with no snow. Alabama would take a town from Iowa, right?

The RV Hall of Fame... rocked in it's shiny-mobile-home sort of way.

Thursday, it's "bonus roadside attraction day!" I had two attractions, the RV HoF and the Ames Brother Pyramid. But due to good travel time and a sweet wife who indulges... Carhenge.

Take Stonehenge, make it out of cars and put it in Nebraska! Sweet love of kitsch, I'm digging this trip.

Will there be pictures, of course!

Time to not type.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Go West: Part 2 of the Big Summer Roadtrip

The wedding was the only real obligation of our big summer roadtrip. While I am really enjoying the time with my folks, my little hometown of McGraw New York doesn't have much to offer in terms of excitement. Check that map, it's a tiny village, people!

Now, our only time constraint is to leave Monday and arrive in Las Vegas on Friday to start the weekend with friends. My parents have always planned months in advance for trips and are befuddled that we haven't yet chosen our route out west yet. It mainly comes down to me picking a couple of places to visit while on the road.

My choices are the Recreational Vehicle Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana and the Ames Brothers Pyramid near Laramie, Wyoming. Both are off the I-80.

The RV Hall of Fame is a large collection of travel trailers, and since I love such things a large collection of travel trailers will make me very happy.

Further west is the Ames Pyramid. "Oliver and Oakes Ames were 19th century industrialists (Oakes was known as the "King of Frauds") who, when they weren't producing shovels, were bribing Congress to finance the Union Pacific Railroad."* And so a pyramid was built in their honor near the railroad track. Now the trains and track are gone, the pyramid stands alone in a field, and few people know or care about the corrupt brothers.

Thanks to the Google Earth program and the people who post the locations of various attractions, no mater where I am I know that something strange and unusual is just a short drive away. Makes me wish I had unlimited funds, all the time in the world and a silver 16' Bambi of my very own.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Priest Made a Lasting First Impression

Yesterday, after the wedding rehearsal, the groom's parents had everyone over for some food. A big ole spread was set up: pizza, lasagna, salad, beer, etc. The groom's mom worked for the priest that was going to preside over the wedding, and so it was in her kitchen that I had my first and last conversation with him...

"Nancy says that you've even had wedding rehearsals without the bride."

"Yes, she was in the hospital having a D & C. I don't even know if the marriage was valid she was so hopped up on meds from the operation the night before."

And then John's dad handed him a big cocktail with 3 cherries and he was off.

... wow!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Rain Ahead: Atlanta in the Rearview Mirror

The roadtrip has now started: Upstate NYC - Vegas - New Orleans

Picture by AC Radebaugh. See more of Radebaughs works at: The Future We Were Promised

The trip was not nearly as sunny as the picture above. Crazy rain all the way up.

Current Position, my New York state hometown for my cousins wedding.

Population 1,400
Stoplights: 0
Bars: 2

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I'd Break My Legs for That!

Hell yes!

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Hmmm, I should get packing for the big trip.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Flip Flop Flyin' Pictorial Atlas of the World

While looking for travel resources I found the Flip Flop Flyin' Pictorial Atlas of the World.

Highly entertaining and completely useless. Read this sample entry and understand.


Part of the Soviet Union for a while, then when all that went tits-up, independence came along for this landlocked country and it is now the world's leading exporter of typos."

Add that to my list of my must-see countries!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

T - 3 Days: Good Bye Atlanta, Hello $3 + Gas!

Today is a packing day, getting the needed goodies ready for the roadtrip. And cleaning the apartment, so when we arrive back in the ATL, we aren't confronted with a mess.

Monday and Tuesday will be hectic, with a planned very-good meeting, and a potentially very-bad car repair appointment.

The Good; I am being brought onboard to advise and consult with an Atlanta architecture firm about a new project of theirs. Meeting on Monday to flesh out our relationship. Details will be purposefully vague for the near future. But like most of my jobs, I will be a big cheerleader. Partially to kiss ass and mainly because I am lucky enough to like/love what I do. "Excelsior!"

The Bad; a trip to the mechanics for a a mildly expensive air-conditioning repair that has the potential to move onto the low 4 digits. But at the beginning of a 5-week trip, neither one of us is willing to worry about the A/C crapping in the Nevada desert. Our little car has been relatively cheap to maintain so this expense doesn't fill us with resentment. It just makes our credit card people very happy.

I have resolved that this trip will not be filled to the brim with visits to roadside attractions and other oddities of Americana. I always have hopes about seeing collections of bizarre places, and my high expectations are usually dashed. It comes from a mix of not wanting to bake our cat in the car, trying to keep to a budget and not adding too much travel time. But I do know that each place of interest passed will bring a little twinge of regret, as I don't know if we will ever pass these places again.

I guess I can do without a visit to the World's Largest Mallard or whatever else when my copilot is a rocking sweetie who makes my life a joy.

And that's what the trip is all about: QT with the cutie.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"The Small Giantess and the Elephant of Royal of Luxe"

The following is art at its best. A spectacle for spectacle's sake. Pure, creative expression. I can only imagine what it must be like to witness this in person. The lucky Parisian's got to see this in 2005, and now the City of London will be playing host to The Sultan's Elephant, Thursday 4 - Sunday 7, 2006.

Since the Royal de Luxe website is in French and I don't speak or read a word of it, this is the story as far as I can tell...

Large, wooden capsule crashes in church's square. Inside is revealed the young pilot. The small giantess is received by the Sultan, astride his even-larger elephant. Once they have met, exhausted by her trip the giantess takes a nap.

- Fin-

The Royal de Luxe has loads of pictures and some video of this event, which are all worth viewing.

From the British Site:

"The Sultan’s Elephant is a spectacle you’ve only imagined... Created by theatrical magicians Royal de Luxe, it tells the story of a sultan from far-off lands and his magical, time-travelling mechanical elephant. Forty feet high and 42 tonnes in weight, this beautiful creature will capture the hearts and minds of everyone who sees it.

The Sultan’s Elephant is played out over four days in the streets, squares and public spaces of central London. Whether you dip into it for three hours or follow its progress for three days, this breathtaking show will live in your memory forever."

I know this is all but an impossiblity, but I wish Atlanta's Center for Puppetry Arts could play host to this.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Notice of Non-Payment: Well, Umm...

"We, the Escorts and Masseurs of DC, are taking charge of these negative situations. We are tired of no-show appointments, traveling to doors that don’t open, and not getting paid for the quality work we give."

On this page is a listing of clients who have caused trouble for us."

Is your phone number here?

Cheap bastard!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Psychic Landmine Detecting Dogs: Courtesy of the US Armed Forces

From the Memory Hole's article Army Report on ESP in Animals...

" In the early 1950s, Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine, based at Duke University, was the foremost researcher in the field of parapsychology, or, using the term he coined: "extrasensory perception." The Army hired Rhine and his Parapsychology Laboratory to research the possibility of using dogs and other animals to detect buried landmines.

The final report for one such contract with Duke University, dated 10 July 1953, remained classified as Confidential for more than 50 years, until it was recently declassified after a long, laborious process. It took ten separate offices five years to clear this short report for release. "

Musicals, Circus Freaks and Another Place to See on the Roadtrip?

Tony Quinonez as Tom Cruise , photo copyright 2004 Les Freres Corbusier, Ltd.

My post-musical-theater-work surfing has me finding a strange assortment of musicals. I would go see A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant if it were to show in town! Les Freres Corbusier produced this children's show to some pretty great reviews and the soundtrack will certainly be appearing on my christmas list. A trip to the label that is selling the cast recording also offers a discounted bundle of "A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant" and with the musical Debbie Does Dallas.

Please, please, please, someone in Atlanta do these shows. And hire me to do... something.

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Previous web surfing had me checking out some strangeness in the form of circus freaks. Ironic Sans posted an article titled Freaks stay at Marriott? which provided a link to the Johnny Ecks Musuem. Dedicated to the man, who when not being a circus attraction, drove around Phili in a specialized car, photographed friends and his loving family, and maintained a small fleet of rideable scale trains.

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Also recently found, the American Dime Museum. Based in Baltimore, this museum is the last remaining of its kind; a celebration of people's desire to see the odd and freakish in a place where the items may not be all that they seem. Many of the exhibits in old dime museums were just fabricated oddities to attract people that would otherwise not put down the 10 cent admission. Based on differing reports, due to funding issues it may or may not be open.

I don't know if this will be a place visited on the summer roadtrip, but it's another reason besides John Waters that makes us want to go to Baltimore.

Also see: American Dime Museum - a photoset on Flickr