Sunday, 21 April 2013

Lost in Las Vegas

 Jon Danzig is bewildered by the city of sin 

● Jon Danzig gets lost in Las Vegas

I HAVE JUST ARRIVED IN HELL. Well, if it isn't, it's a bloody good imitation. 

This is the place where everything and everyone screams for your money. Signs shout buy me, try me, tip me, win me, play me, rent me, ride me, f**k me.

There isn't another place on the planet that has found more ways to take your money. But in this mob run desert strip, everything is a mirage, from the plastic Eiffel Tower to the plastic chips in every hotel.

Hotel?  I thought I'd arrived in the wrong place. 

The lobby was a long hall paraded with hundreds  - and I really do mean hundreds - of "play me" slot machines.  They were attended by bulging eyed mesmerised people, sitting en-mass in front of these electronic vultures, addictively feeding them one disc after the other.  Then they lifted their palms, almost in pathetic unison, onto the digest-me-now buttons, or to yank down the arm to spin the wheels, and eagerly waited for any nickel-plated excreta.

But I walked through this valley of temptation and not once did I succumb to dropping either a dollar or a dime into the mouths of these one armed bandits. For God, I have not sinned.

So, please tell me. Why have you sent me here?

The hotel receptionist welcomed me and said there was no need to leave the hotel, because everything I needed was right here. Panic struck me and I wanted to leave. Immediately.

She warned me that local calls were very expensive from the hotel room. "A minimum charge of $1 each time you pick up the phone."

What about going on the Internet, which I had understood, was free? 

"Oh, nothing here is free!" she said. "It's 35 cents a minute for the Internet." 

I sighed and I was drunk with jetlag. 

"Do you also charge for the air?" I sneered.

"Oh no Sir!" she replied. "But then, it's terribly polluted."

I turned to go to my room. "Have a nice day," she waved. I quickly swung round on my heels. "And how much will that cost me?" I asked, not really joking.

The lift (sorry elevator) to my room on the 18th floor stopped at almost every one and each time the doors slid open a recorded female voice announced in a Nevada drawl, "Welcome to Las Vegas, where everyone's a sinner."

But there is something wrong with my hearing. It's not until the 17th floor that I realise she is saying, "winner" not "sinner".

No, as I walked passed rooms 1883, 1884, 1885, actually there's nothing wrong with my hearing at all.

Knees Up

The flight to Las Vegas was very tiring. Gatwick airport was hit with a double whammy: the computer terminal in traffic control had gone down and the baggage conveyor wasn't working. 

For once, it really was necessary to arrive at the airport at least two hours before the flight was due to depart. For once, I had. There was a line of at least 300 people ahead of me to check in. We were at least one hour late in taking off..

Once on board, I listened more carefully than usual to the emergency instructions. "On your life jacket is a whistle and a light," said the steward. "This is so you can attract sailors."

"Oooh!" I exclaimed. And all the passengers broke down in giggles.

During the entire flight my knees were in constant battle with the passenger in front. A huge build of a man he kept pushing his seat as far back as possible; further back than I believe any other seat on the plane was capable of being pushed back.

Each notch back imprisoned me ever tighter into my already cramped conditions. My knees held firm, preventing any further excursions into my 'lebensraum'.  The man in front yanked and struggled and heaved hard but with all my might, I wouldn't budge, my knees primed for the long haul.

But, in one moment of unforgivable weakness, my knees moved just ever so slightly to the left, and that was it, the monster ahead of me took his cue and sprightly pivoted his seat right back into uncharted caverns, trapping me into my tight corner 36000 feet above the Atlantic.

It got me thinking though. Airplanes are so badly designed. There is so much unused space available. Not side ways, forwards or back. But up. So much airspace above our heads simply wasted. If only they raised the seats two feet off the floor we'd all have all the legroom we'd ever need. OK, we'd then be 36002 feet above the Atlantic. But we'd be happier.

● Vegan, Virgin style
In the middle of the flight the stewardess knelt beside my seat and whispered into my ear. 

"You ordered a vegetarian meal but I'm afraid there's been a mix-up and you've got a vegan meal instead. I'm terribly sorry. You don't have to eat it if you don't like it."

I felt a bit alarmed. "Is there any reason why I shouldn't like it?"

"Oh no!" she replied, plonking the vegan tray in front of me, a good 30 minutes before anyone else on the plane was given their "normal" food. 

Everyone watched me eat.

When we landed the pilot announced that there'd be a delay while we waited on the tarmac, not just so our wheels could be sprayed with disinfectant, to rid our flying machine of 'foot and mouth', but to allow a posse of US policeman on board. There had been a struggle on board between a couple of the passengers and they were to be arrested.

I went bright red. How could they know? Did they have a hidden camera watching what I thought was a secret combat between my knees and the seat in front of me? I've heard of airline passengers being arrested for being legless. But being charged simply because of a knees up over legroom? About a dozen policemen trooped aboard and I waited for them to tell me my rights. But they sauntered right passed me.

Apparently, there had been a fight right at the back of the plane, completely out of sight and unbeknown to me or any of the other passengers in our sector of the plane. After a while, the armed police sauntered out again, this time in their charge about half a dozen very sheepish looking English guys.

A Fruit and Nutcase?

There was a long queue to get through customs, especially now that security is so tight because of 'foot and mouth' disease in England (or 'hoof and mouth' as they call it here). It's at these times that I start to think very bizarre things. It's probably a brain disorder.

Did you know that in America, it's against the law to even just say that you are going to shoot the President?

I imagined that I was going to the USA to make a movie called "The President". At customs they always ask what is the purpose of your trip? I'd reply, "I'm here to shoot 'The President'". Can you imagine the look on the Customs officers face? I'd add, "Yes, there's a whole crew of us from England involved in the shooting, it's going to take months to do and afterwards we'll show it in every cinema. Would you like a free ticket?"

But it was in reality almost as bad. 

● Am I a 'Fruit and Nut Case'?
After collecting my luggage, there was another customs officer to visit, specifically charged with preventing foot and mouth disease entering the country. He solemnly announced, "Do you have any meat products, fruit or milk products?" 

For a second or two I shuddered. At Gatwick Airport I had bought myself a Cadbury's Fruit and Nutcase chocolate bar. Ok, I had eaten most of it during the flight. But there could still be a few crumbs at the bottom of my bag.

I looked into the Custom Officers eyes and was about to say, "Fruit and Nut Case", but thought better of it. He might have thought I was being rude, or worse, calling him names.

I said, "No" and quickly moved on.

Stuff the slot machines...then stuff yourself

In Las Vegas, taking your money doesn't come with a smile.

Most people seem to have a mean look in their eyes. Here the customer isn't king. Not even Elvis is king. Money is king.

But the meanest looking are the faces of car drivers. Don't dare to cross the road on a red pedestrian light. People apparently do get killed.

I think the drivers, fed up with losing on the one armed bandits, see three fat tourists in the middle of the road as a sort of winning line Super Jackpot, rev their cars, hoot aggressively, and speed forward, with a licence to knock down anyone in their way.

In Vegas practically every eatery is an "as much as you like" eatery. Seems to me that people take it as a personal challenge and do just that - eat as much as they possibly can. After stuffing the slot machines and casinos with most of their hard earned cash, they then spend what’s left on what is probably the best bargain in town: food.

This morning I bought myself breakfast for $9.40 and could eat as much as I wanted, with buffet wagons weighed down with masses of food.

● Food, eat as much as you can?
People who have obviously frequented these establishments since conception surrounded me. They are so fat! No, I mean really obese.

I had what I thought was a reasonably big breakfast, but clearly I was way out of my league. Some of the guests may as well have reserved an entire trolley of food just for themselves. Their plates were piled so high. They stomachs protruded so wide!

I do not exaggerate when I claim that just one of these stomachs had probably digested enough food to feed a small country. For a year.

I asked the young man at the business reception desk of my hotel if there was a less expensive Internet connection anywhere, since most places seemed to charge $20 per hour. 

"Well," he answered, "there's a place just round the corner that only charges $5 for 15 minutes." 

"Mmm," I pondered. "Well, that IS $20 per hour."

He advised me to go to a place called Kinkos, but I'd have to get a taxi. Is it that far, I ventured? 

"Well, I for one am too lazy to walk that far," he replied. 

So how far is it? 

"Oh, about a mile."

I told him that I walked my dog longer than that every morning and went on my way.

I don't mean to be rude...

But I knew what he meant about not walking.

There are so many Americans here not walking. That is because, I have come to the conclusion, they simply cannot walk. 

They waddle.

I have seen Americans stomachs that extend so far our that I doubt they have ever seen their feet, let alone know what they are for. OK, some of the women it might be assumed have a bun in their oven. But on closer inspection, it looks more like they have an oven up their bum.

I don't mean to be rude.

Oh, OK, I do.

I couldn't find Kinkos (unless he meant Kinkys, but they seemed to offer an altogether different kind of surfing).

The Internet cafe I found was cheaper than the hotels, but at $16 per hour, still vastly more expensive than in Europe.

I asked the Manager when they closed. 

"We're open until 1am." 

I wondered if it was safe at that time of night. 

"Oh sir," he said, "the strip here is the safest place on earth, 24 hours a day. People come here to spend huge amounts of money. We don't want them to get robbed."

Oh, they get robbed all right, I muttered. But certainly not by any robbers the police would care to arrest.

In the middle of the night on my first night here in Vegas I had quite a shock. I was exhausted from jet lag but nevertheless woke up to see myself on the ceiling. 

YIKES! I was having an out-of-body experience. 

But hold on. Something wasn't quite right. In an out-of-body experience, I thought I was supposed to be on the ceiling, looking down at me in bed. But here I was, in bed, looking up at me on the ceiling. Hey, I thought, maybe it can happen that way round sometimes.

But in the dim light it slowly dawned on me I had been looking at myself in the bedroom ceiling mirror.

Next morning I discovered to my dismay that I had forgotten to pack my shaving brush. Applying shaving cream to ones face by any other method is just not the same. It doesn't produce enough lather.

So, I caught a bus downtown and found a shopping mall. 

"Can I help you Sir?" the young shop assistant enquired, which makes a very pleasant change to the usual "You alwight?" greeting in U K shops.

I told her I was looking for a shaving brush. She went to get the shop keys. 

"Um," I uttered, a little bemused, "you, er, lock up your shaving brushes?" 

"Oh, yes sir," she said, unlocking and sliding open the glass cabinet with an array of gold plated shaving brushes.

I looked at the price of the cheapest and told her I had changed my mind. I was going to grow a beard.

Treasure Island - but whose treasure?
I wandered to Treasure Island and was joined by an older black couple who were here for their granddaughters Spring break. 

The man told me that he had been to London as a soldier, you know, in the Second World War, in 1948.

I told him that I hoped he hadn't been fighting the Germans in 1948. 

"Why's that?" he asked. 

"Because by then the war had been over for a good three years..."

In Denny's I told the waitress that I hadn't tasted their coffee for at least five years and I considered it the best. 

"Oh, we've changed it since then," she said. "We now have Millstones coffee. It's a lot better. You'll love it."

I told her I would let her know, but on first sip I knew it wasn't a patch on the original Denny's coffee. She whispered to me, "Yes, I know. I don't like the new stuff either."

Complaining like an old fart?

It’s Monday evening in Las Vegas and I have just made my first big mistake of the week. 

I’m about to go out for dinner with my new found Canadian friends, Inge and Pearl*. But on the way I decide to pop into the Internet Cafe and send my story-of-Las-Vegas-so-far to my ex-girlfriend in California.

I honestly don’t know how long it should take a Californian gal to read my first 2,500 words, but her emailed reply came back just 4 minutes and 35 seconds later..

“..sounds like you’re getting old, complaining like an old fart, what’s happened to you?”

Ouch! I dispatch an email to my older, wiser sister. Would she call these Californian sour grapes?

“Not grapes, Jon, more like prunes,” writes back my sage of a sister. “Try and leave the museum pieces to collect dust particles. I don’t think they have anything worthwhile to offer ... now you can see her in her true light.”

I’m feeling better already.

But my brother feels even more indignant. He writes to tell me, “Suggest you send an e-mail to her from”

No, Steve, that really wouldn't be my style.

Pearl and Inge are fun and bright and both work in Canadian television and are instantly likeable. I met them at a reception for international visitors to NABs, the National Association of Broadcasters Conference that I am attending here in Las Vegas, and we exchanged business cards.

Fortunately I also met them again on the way out of the conference and suggested we could meet up later for dinner.

Now Pearl is an easy name to spell and an easy name to pronounce. But I really wasn’t sure about Inge. OK, call me ignorant, but I had not come across this name before. Ingrid yes. But not Inge. I was wondering how to pronounce it. Well, being a Capricorn, I thought some logic was required here. What other words in the English language have any similarity to Inge? Ahh, yes, of course. Hinge! Maybe her name is pronounced the same as hinge, but without the h.

My, am I so glad that I didn't come out with anything like, “What would you like to drink, Hinge?” Fortunately, I soon learnt that the correct pronunciation is In-ga. Silly me. Lovely name though.

The machine coughed out $2 million in coins..

After dinner Pearl has to disappear to her room for some reason, heaven knows why, but I am sure for some totally innocent purpose.

This leaves Inge to be set loose on the casino floor for some serious gambling.

But-not-me-though. I am not a gambling man. OK I admit I was challenged (by Inge) and I conceded to participate, so long as I could set myself a limit. After a considerable amount of thought and hesitation, I agreed to risk 50 cents on just one slot machine. 

● The money eating machines...
Inge bet me that I would get hooked and want to spend more. But of course I couldn't possibly agree to a bet on whether I would bet. That would be ridiculous. 

Anyway, the reluctant player that I am, I dragged two quarters out of my pocket and spun them into the little feed-me slot, then punched my fist down onto the button.

The white wheels spun around. Then something really amazing happened. No, absolutely, fundamentally, astoundingly amazing.

The machine started to go crazy, and in a sort of violent vomit of ching-ching-ching-ching-ching, it coughed out over $2 million in coins, spilling everywhere over the floor, with everyone around me screaming “My, he’s a hero!” and “He’s the 50 cent millionaire!”

But I lie.

Nothing of the sort happened.


The wheels spun round. And then there was silence. Not even a gulp as my cherished two quarters disappeared into the bandit’s belly.

I walked away in disgust, determined not to go near the machines again. Inge couldn’t believe that I wasn't going to have another go. But I knew my limit. It was 50 cents. And I had lost it.

It was then I wondered if a citizen’s arrest was permissible in America. I imagined myself telling one of these thieving one-armed bandits that they had the right to remain silent before slipping a handcuff over its crooked knobbed arm.

But I’d be wasting my time of course. 

● Win some, lose all?
Inge, though, she didn't waste any time. She put my 50 cents to shame.

At the green emblazoned card table Rik was ready to take her money. And I just watched. And wondered: who out of the two of us is going to walk out of here with more or less money than we walked in?

The answer very soon became obvious.

Inge converted not 50 cents but $50 into chips. And my, did she do well. Within minutes she had won $200. 

Even Rik looked amazed. A look that said, “This is, er, rather unusual…”

It’s then that I decide to send Inge a telepathic message. “Stop Now. Stop Now”. But obviously my thought waves could’t possibly rise above the sound of clinking money.

Confident that luck was on her side, Inge kept on playing. And within a few minutes she had lost it all. Inge scoured her purse for more cash. Then her traveller’s cheques. Then her credit card. In a desperate bid to win back at least what she had lost, I could only see more being lost.

“You should have stopped when you were $200 up,” says Rik, obviously oblivious to doling out such useless late advice.

Inge turned to me and asked if I would mind carrying her handbag, to stop her from converting any more money into chips. I a little half-heartedly agree.

But a few minutes later I ask if she would mind taking her handbag back. 

“Don’t you want to help me anymore?” 

“No, it’s not that,” I reply. 

“It’s just that some of the people round here are starting to give me strange looks..”

I ask Rik if he ever gambles. “Never,” he replies and neither, he adds, does any of the staff.


With Inge now truly broke, we decide to walk away from the tables of gloom. Somehow we start to talk about photography and I happen to mention that I once took a photo of Elton John in the bath.

Inge raises her voice. “You took a photo of Elton John in the bath!”

“Please, Inge,” I insist. “Not so loud!! Those people who saw me carrying your handbag? Now they are really giving me strange looks..”

Lunch in Venice - Vegas style 

So, why am I in Las Vegas? To attend a media conference.

I found myself sitting near to a woman producer, Susan, from a famous TV channel (it begins with D and ends in Y…no, probably not the one you are thinking of). 

● Venice - with plastic clouds and blue water
At the lunch break, we both decide to go up the escalator of the Venetian Hotel and enter – Venice. I look up and suddenly see an azure sky, with wisps of pure white clouds passing by. I admit it looks stunning. 

But then it slowly dawns. None of it is real. It is a plastic ceiling with plastic, motorised clouds. Even the so-called Venetian canals aren't real –the water is so clear that you can see the blue bottom. You certainly can’t do that in Venice. 

And over lunch Susan gives me the third degree. “Are you married, do you have children?” 

“No,” I reply, “but there is a very good reason for that.” 

“Oh, what’s that?” she asks. 

“Because,” I reply, “I’m very lucky!”  

Susan looks at me with a stern face. Why is it that my little joke never works in the States? They all seem so serious here! 

In England, people always laugh. Well except once. Once in England my little joke backfired. When I told Louis, the retired lawyer, in the middle of walking my dog in the park, that there was a good reason why I wasn't married, he didn't ask me why, as he was supposed to. 

He blurted out, “Yes, because you’re a homosexual!” 

Well I am not. But what do I care what people think?

Susan asks me how old I am, looks a bit surprised, and then says, “You don’t look that age.” 

But obviously I am off the agenda. And I can only think to myself. 

Yippee. Dippee. Doo. 

Sleeping beauties?

In the afternoon seminar a handsome young man called Steve, who looked somewhat like Christopher Reeve in his Superman days, asks us all during his speech to close our eyes.

It's a very clever move. Well, a clever move compared to any of the other speakers. Most of them were so boring that they managed to get us all to close our eyes without even asking. By asking us to pretend to be asleep while he spoke, Steve at least saved us all the embarrassment of pretending that we weren't asleep while he spoke. 

Afterwards I queue up to ask Steve a question and find that Susan is behind me. “Don’t forget to close your eyes when you talk to him,” I joke.

But Susan looks at me astonished. “I couldn't possibly close my eyes when looking at him. It would waste his greatest asset. He looks so handsome! Appearance is important, you know!” 

“Well, it is to you!” I reply. 

“No,” Susan snarls back. “Appearance is important to everyone. That, and cleanliness.” 

Oh dear. I think back. Yes, I did shower this morning. Yes, I applied deodorant. And aftershave. And fresh clothing. Oh, forget it!  

The next day Susan is eager to tell me some important news. 

“I just gotta tell you, I gotta tell someone!” she tumbles out her words. 

“OK, go on,” I reply, wondering what is she going to tell me. 

“Yesterday, I was walking along the strip with my Mom, and I saw him! The man of my dreams! My Mom can’t walk so fast, and this guy was walking at quite a pace. I said to my Mom, ‘Look Mom, there’s the man of my dreams!’ Mom told me to catch up with him and not to worry about her.  

"So I walked quickly but just at that point he jumped into a taxi and I just looked at him and shrugged my shoulders and stretched out my hands in a sort of hopeless gesture.

"And do you know what? He looked back, opened the window of the cab and shouted out, ‘Hey, where are you guys heading?’ And before I could tell him, the taxi driver sped off, just like that. It’s amazing. The man of my dreams! And I will probably never see him again. 

“That is something I am never ever going to forget, for the rest of my life!” 

I looked at Susan in absolute, stunned, silence. 

Susan broke it by saying, “Oh, come on, surely something like that has happened to you?” 

“Well,” I answer slowly, trying to choose my words carefully here. 

“If it did happen, it wouldn't have been a man. And I wouldn't possibly have remembered it..” 

Susan then tells me that she has to be careful today, as she doesn't want to bump into her ex-boyfriend, who is also attending the conference. 

“So, I guess he wasn't the man of your dreams?” I pondered. 

“Oh, well he could have been,” replied Susan. “But he dumped me.” 

“Look on the bright side,” I replied. “If you do meet the man of your dreams again, here in Vegas, you could have coffee in the morning and be legally married in the afternoon.”

“That would be difficult,” said Susan. 

“I am, er, actually still married.”

Taxi tips

I have been warned about the taxis here ripping people off. In any case, whenever I am abroad, I always ask the price of the destination before getting into the cab.  

Outside the hotel, there is already a line of taxis but the hotel doorman insists on sticking up his hand to beckon the cab. There is only one reason for this. It’s so he can then stick out his hand to be palmed a tip. 

Here, in this part of America, you cannot expect anyone to do anything without a little something (or more).  

When I was about 10 years old, I used to be fascinated by the idea of a tip. Sometimes on a Sunday my Mum and Dad would take my younger sister and I to the Queen Anne’s tea shop in Dunstable, now long since demised. 

One Sunday I felt I wanted to be able to tell the waitress on the way out, “I left a tip on the table for you.” But I was only ten and I didn't have any money. So I left a different kind of tip instead.

It was a little note on which I had written, “Your table cloth needs cleaning.” 

That’s the kind of tip I’d like to give the hotel doorman. A written warning to tell him that I can stick my own hand in the air thank you very much, and what kind of bloody stupid way was that to earn a living, by sticking your hand up in the air every few minutes? 

● Convention confusion..
Anyway, I asked the taxi driver, “How much to take me to the Las Vegas Conference Centre?” 

“You mean the Hilton Hotel?” 

“No, I do not! I mean the Conference Centre, the main one in Las Vegas.” 

“You mean the Sands Hotel?” 

“NO! The Conference Centre!!”

I was getting a bit red in the face but after a while the cabbie says,“Oh you mean the Convention Centre. That’ll be about $8.” 

On the way we get talking. He’s from Iran and studied agriculture at university in the US but decided to stay here rather than return to his home country “after it got all religious.” 

"You know, all the tourists here get the Convention Centre mixed up with the Conference Centres,” he tells me through his rear-view mirror. 

“You see, every hotel here has a conference centre. So taxi drivers have a great time taking them from hotel to hotel, clocking up a fortune, before they realise they actually want the Convention Centre.” 

“That’s terrible!” I said. “You taxi drivers should be kinder to your visitors.”

“Oh, I wouldn't do it. Not me!” he replies. 

Oh yeah! 

I reckon many of the taxi drivers here are on the make and on the take and probably on the run. 

Another cabbie told me that his family had fled from Korea. We were having a perfectly normal conversation when without any warning he suddenly asked, “Do you like prostitutes?” 


“You know, prostitutes. Do you like ‘em?” 

“No, it’s OK thanks.” 

“Well,” he said, “take this card in case you change your mind.” 

On the card were pictured two women obviously in frantic need of money to buy some clothes. Written next to them were the words, “Referred by Kenny. Referral number 1341.” 

Two-girl specials 

Even if you decide to walk instead of take a taxi you cannot avoid this kind of sales pitch. That’s because so many of the pedestrians here are pimps too. 

You cannot walk two paces along the Las Vegas strip without a permanent pavement bystander slapping his or her hand with their naked female or male order catalogues and then sticking them right under your nose, making it almost impossible to continue walking. 

● The Vegas Strip - stripped bare?
There are dozens of these vagrant looking pedestrian pimps lined up all the way along the pavements. Each innocent walk by any tourist here is applauded by this sinister sounding slow clap, as every three seconds another catalogue is swiped across a sweaty palm and then thrust out to stop your way. 

There is no discretion. Husbands hand-in-hand with wives are offered luscious babes and two girl specials. I guess they are considered just another kind of slot machine. 

I learn how to duck and dive these guys and after three days of walking up or down the strip they get to know me and don’t bother to applaud me anymore. 

"Do I look like a rabbit?"

In one of the five restaurants in my hotel, I ordered for lunch a Tropicana Salad. 

The waitress wobbled as she walked over with the huge and heavy bowl – at least one foot deep and one foot wide. It was covered with eggs and tomatoes and cheeses and tunas and olives and it seemed hundreds of other goodies.

I wondered how I was going to devour this feast. Except it wasn't a feast at all. It was just one layer deep. A bowl of what seemed to be 11 inches by 12 inches of green lettuce leaves and just one inch of real food on top.

I beckoned the waitress, who must also have been top heavy herself because she seemed to wobble even without carrying the salad bowl. 

I wanted to ask her a question. 

“Do I look like a rabbit?” 

“No, Sir, you don’t look like a rabbit.”

I handed back the bowl, wondering if they recycled the lettuce leaves from one customer to the next. 

“Has anyone ever eaten all the lettuce?” I asked.

“Only once, Sir.” 

This is typical of Vegas. Everything is on the surface. Nothing is deep. It’s all a fa├žade. 

● Glitzy at the front - but what about the back?
Just like the magnificent looking hotels. On the front, amazing. But don’t spoil the illusion by looking round the back, as I did. You’re not supposed to see that. From the back view, some of them look no better than huge, drab ex-Soviet Union monstrosities. 

My daily attendance to the presentations and seminars at the broadcasting conference is becoming drearier and wearier. 

With just a few exceptions the talks and panel discussions are bland, meaningless and dull. 

At the end of each conference and seminar the audience is invited to make comments or ask questions. Hardly anyone ever does. 

It was at a seminar on how to promote your company or brand name that I decided to speak up at last. When, at the end, the speaker invited any feedback from the audience, I went straight up to the microphone. 

“My name's Jon Danzig,” I said slowly and surely into the mic. “Producer/Director of Look-Hear TV in the United Kingdom.”

I paused. 

“And that,” I added, “is all I want to say.” 

The entire hall gave me a round of applause. Ridiculous. 

At a break during another seminar about streaming media on Internet Protocols (I.P.) I went to the men’s toilets and saw something that I have never seen before. 

OK, call me innocent or green, but this I had honestly not witnessed before. 

I saw a line of men peeing at the urinals. No, there is more.

I saw a line of men peeing at the urinals and all of them talking into mobile phones. I think I was the only one lined up not peeing and phoning at the same time. It made interesting listening though.. 

“Yes, I’m at a seminar on how to do streaming…” Yeah! 

And, “It’s all about IP. Can’t you hear me? I said I.P., I.P.” 

The $400 sandwich

Later that night in the hotel bar two young girls approach me.  

“Can we make you into a sandwich?” 

“You want to make me a sandwich?” 

“No we want to make you into a sandwich, with us, in your hotel room. $400 for the two of us?” 

“No!” I answer. 

“Why, we out of your league?” 

“On the contrary,” I reply, getting up to leave. 

“It’s just that for what you have in mind, I would want to charge considerably more.” 

The next day I decide to go back to the Treasure Island hotel because the last time I had missed the ship battle, which is supposed to be spectacular. 

While I sip my beer by the railings overlooking the artificial lake, there’s a tap on my shoulder.  I turn round to see a group of young Americans behind me. 

“Would you mind taking a photo of us?” asks one of the girls.

“Of course not!” I reply, as I pick up my camera, point it at them and click the shutter, before going back to my drink.

I hear a few gasps behind me, then a lot of giggles. No, no, they cry, they meant could I take a photo of them with their camera. 

Silly people. They should have been clearer.


It's over ten years since Jon Danzig visited Las Vegas.  
He currently has no plans for a return visit. 

*Tragically Pearl lost her life earlier this year when she was the innocent victim of a road traffic accident.  I've re-published my story above about Las Vegas in tribute to her memory.


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