|Home | Message Board | Creature Feature | Paranormal | Multimedia | Email Us | PCR Archives | Spotlight | Classics From The Vault|
"The Town" by Mike Smith
Miami Memories: Part Two of Two by William Moriaty
Loose in Las Vegas: 2010 – The Deuce by ED Tucker
|GROWING UP FANBOY|
When MTV Played Music by Chris Woods
|THE ASIAN APERTURE|
Man, Woman, and the Wall by Jason Fetters
Passing On .... And Now, A Special Note From Mrs. Smith .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith
As much as I enjoy visiting Las Vegas, one trip a year is usually more than enough for me. Every once in a while though, life tosses you an opportunity that you just can’t pass up. For me it was the chance to visit Sin City along with The Royal Guardsmen as documented last issue. I also had a laundry list of things I have been wanting to do and places to see that has slowly grown during my last few trips. Add to this a couple of stops I can never get enough of and I could easily justify a second round this year.
Joining me for my adventures this trip was my wife Cindy, who hasn’t been back to Vegas since our inaugural visit in 2001. We arrived on a Tuesday evening and headed over to the Cannery Casino where the Guardsmen would play later that week. The Cannery is what is referred to as a “locals” casino, meaning that it is located away from the strip and caters more to the residents of Las Vegas than the tourist trade. While we may have been further removed from what most people consider the action of Vegas, it was fine by us and the non-tourist prices were a nice surprise. I noticed my slot machine discovery for the trip right as we were checking in. In the never ending quest for gambling themes, there is now a one armed bandit based on the television show / musical group The Monkees. I couldn’t resist feeding a few dollars into the machine just for “research purposes”, but when I heard a rumor that if you hit the grand prize jackpot you win Peter Tork, I decided to save my gambling money for other stakes.
We were just about on empty by the time we checked in since our cross country flight had started at around 4PM Florida time. We did have enough energy to join friends Tricia and Graham Anderson at the casino’s Italian restaurant, Vino’s, for dinner. We may not have been the best company in our nearly exhausted state but this was Cindy’s first chance to meet Tricia and Graham who I visit regularly. It was a quiet but enjoyable dinner where we caught up on the last few month’s excitement since my May visit and discussed the rather dismal condition of the Las Vegas real estate market.
Wednesday was the only day that Cindy and I would spend with just the two of us before friends arrived, so we decided to make the most of it. After a wonderful breakfast at Victory’s Café in the casino (warning – the banana pecan waffles can easily feed three people!), we headed out to do some shopping and sight seeing. Our first stop was our casino’s counterpart across town, the Eastside Cannery. I had heard it was the larger of the two casinos but it seemed comparable at best to me. It features a more nondescript décor as compared to the northern venue with its nostalgic pinup art and neon. We ran by some smaller collectibles shops and then did some reconnaissance on a few of the more speculative locations on my list. Some of the places I had been saving up had apparently gone out of business or were off our GPS’s grid but for the most part everything was where it was supposed to be.
One place I never get tired of is Buddy Barnett’s Cinema Collector’s World in Henderson, Nevada. Buddy is always a blast to talk to due to his wealth of knowledge of movie posters and the collecting scene in general. He also never disappoints in the merchandise department either. This was one of my rare trips where I could actually relax and plunder through his inventory to my heart’s content while we commiserated on the changing state of the hobby, the influx of reproductions, and the hard to gauge value of original movie memorabilia. As usual, I left the store with a respectable sized parcel of vintage goodies under my arm. My stand out purchase for this trip was a beautiful one sheet for Gigantis the Fire Monster, the second film in the Godzilla series. While known as Godzilla Raids Again or Godzilla’s Counterattack almost everywhere but in the US, it was retitled by Warner Brothers who felt the franchise was over and they were better off marketing it was a unique film. Poster art for this film features the battle between returning Godzilla and new monster Anguiris rendered in a style similar to medieval etching of dragons. The American version of this film is not very popular among Godzilla fans but the advertising materials are still considered very collectible.
The Royal Guardsmen meet The Corpse Grinder at Sam's Town!!
Wednesday afternoon, the first wave of the Guardsmen, Chris Nunley with wife Karen and Billy and Donna Taylor, arrived from Florida. They had caught earlier flights than we did so, while they may not have been dynamos of energy, they were certainly in better shape than Cindy and I were when we got to town the day before. Ted had recommended the Sam’s Town Casino for dinner and a laser show afterwards in their shopping area. Our group enjoyed the bountiful buffet at the western themed casino and then split up with Ted and Shanti, who had already seen the show many times, remaining behind and visiting with Billy who was still enjoying his desert. The rest of us walked next door to the shopping area and watched a fabricated mountain filled with animatronic animals come to life while music played and laser lights danced. Not a bad show at all, especially for free, which just proves it pays to know people in Vegas! After the show, we regrouped and made a leisurely stroll through the casino before parting company. It had been a long day for everyone for various reasons and we were all ready for bed.
Just a small sample of some of the impressive games in the collection of the Pinball Museum.
A vintage Space Invaders arcade game still in operation at the Pinball Museum.
Knowing that Chris is a fan of pinball machines, I lined up the Pinball Museum as our first stop for the day. Located in an unassuming building not too far from the strip, this “museum” is really nothing more than a warehouse that contains the sizable collection of a local group of arcade enthusiasts. Considering that 90% of the machines were up and running and ready for play, it really didn’t require any more than that to have a good time and, aside from the single quarter required to play most of the machines, admission is free. In addition to more pinball machines than I ever realized existed, the museum also contains some vintage (think Space Invaders) arcade games and even a few of the old electronic shooting games I used to love as a kid. This really brought back memories of the pre-video arcade days when kids went to the local bowling alley or skating rink to play games like these in some cramped, poorly ventilated back room. It didn’t take long for the quarters to start dropping and soon we had the place humming with the sounds of a vintage arcade symphony.
Next up was another place I had been meaning to visit for years, the Atomic Testing Museum. This had been an easy spot to back burner on previous visits because the publicity I had seen for it didn’t make it look terribly exciting. For some strange reason they seem to like to keep the advertising low key but the museum is well designed and very informative. They do not allow photography of any kind in the majority of the building for security reasons. Unlike a lot of places these days, our group had our own personal tour guide to take us through the exhibits. Sam was a 40 year veteran of the Nevada Nuclear Testing Facility before his retirement and we could not have asked for a better guide. In addition to explaining the displays and artifacts, Sam shared his life experiences with us which really made the place come alive. Nuclear power, especially the military applications, is a very sobering subject but the museum gives patrons an appreciation for the research and care that went in to its development and continues in its maintenance. No punches are pulled on the devastation the weapons derived from it have caused or the consequences related to accidents like Three Mile Island but the information is delivered with an even hand. For the $12 admission, you also get numerous multimedia presentations and even a small exhibit on the 911 Twin Towers disaster with some actual pieces of the buildings. I highly recommend this museum if you have the opportunity to visit it and be sure to ask for Sam as your tour guide.
A Ramones concert poster and jacket on display at the Hard Rock Casino.
Our final stop on the Thursday road trip was a shopping one at a new place I had discovered called Movie Brat. This store is the antithesis of Cinema Collectors World and sells only personality and reprint posters. They also had a sizable selection of entertainment related books and used CDs and DVDs. This store probably won’t go on my must visit list but the prices were reasonable for anyone looking for modern memorabilia or decorative items.
The early arrivals out for dinner. Left to right - Billy & Donna Taylor, Karen & Chris Nunley, ED & Cindy Tucker.
All you need is the Love show at The Mirage.
Cindy and ED Tucker at the MGM Grand.
The electric canopy that now covers the original Las Vegas - Fremont Street.
The remainder of the Guardsmen arrived in town that afternoon and we met them back at the Cannery for dinner at the buffet. They were beat after a long and circuitous plane ride that took them from Florida to California and then back to Las Vegas. While they were excited to have finally made it to their destination, it was all they could do to keep their eyes open, so we bid a very hasty good night to them following dinner. Since the rest of us were thoroughly into vacation mode, we grabbed the Taylors and Donna’s son Paul, who had come in to visit that day from California, and headed for Fremont Street.
Come on get happy! Posing with a mock up of The Partridge Family bus parked on Fremont Street.
While my stay in Vegas was still two days away from over, Friday night was my last real time for vacation. We spent all day Saturday in preparation for The Royal Guardsmen’s performance that night and Sunday was a whirlwind of packing and working our way back to the airport to return home. I was actually feeling pretty well rested by the time I got to Saturday but after I returned home Sunday night I felt like I needed a vacation from the vacation! Twice in one year is more than enough Las Vegas for me. I don’t know at this point if I will try to go back in 2011 or not but I certainly feel like I am caught up in Sin City if I don’t make it back for a while!
To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. "Retrorama" is ©2010 by ED Tucker. Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.