Friday, February 28, 2014

Happy 40th Birthday Paco! The book is finally available!

Happy Birthday to Las Vegas historian, curator and all around swell guy, Brian Paco Alvarez. On your fabulous 40th weekend extravaganza, I am happy to announce the release of my book ****This Is Not Spam**** TWENTY THIRTEEN Renaissance

 THIS WEEKEND ONLY, GET THE EARLY BIRD SPECIAL $0.99 eBook or $8.99 paperback Official book launch party coming soon. Details TBA. For you, who can wait no longer (or forget the book was even coming), you can get in on this one-time special. Leave your comments below. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


It was early Sunday morning, July 11 2010, and the sun was just barely creeping over the horizon. Lighter shades of blue becoming increasingly brighter and a thin line of blinding gold twinkling atop the eastern mountains. The picture is completely serene when suddenly and without warning a boom/crash like I have never heard or felt before shakes us out of bed and onto our feet. The window is intact yet vibrating with aftershock.

"What (the *%#^ ) was that?"

I swear I thought a helicopter had crashed into the building or a bomb had gone off. Moments later, we are on our balcony along with a dozen or so other confused residents, peering out in search of an explanation.

Hillary and I had already been up earlier this morning, so it didn't take us much time to hop in the car and head out in search of answers. (Way back when we did that kind of thing).

The conclusion: NV Energy substation at 1004 S Main St had an explosion, rocking several blocks of downtown in each direction.

While many surrounding storefronts lost their windows and others had structural damage from the blast, ours at 1104 S 3rd St, is not in the shockwave path and our shop is OK- so we head up to Pancake House for some Sunday breakfast, while searching for and sharing on social media all of the crazy events of our morning.

After breakfast, in search of some trouble, I recall that our friend Brenda bartends right across the street at Meatheads. After a quick recon, we see her truck in front, and decide to head on over.

As happenstance would have it, after maybe 30 minutes or so, Mayra Politis, owner of The Attic vintage store, walks in (in search of a cigarette machine). Small world, I think to myself. We had met a couple times already and Hillary recognized her right away and decided to say Hello.

It had not immediately occurred to me that The Attic is directly next door to the blast site, but it does not take long before we are briefed as to the extent of her damage. Just horrible.

To make matters worse, NV Energy quickly denies responsibility, pointing to something faulty on behalf of Southwest Gas for causing the explosion.

The next year is embroiled in combating to coerce NV Energy to "Do the right thing", yet the public protests, lawyers, bad press and community harping does little to nothing to help restore this remarkable piece of Las Vegas history.

December 2013, after 25 years at that location, Mayra sold the building to another Nevadan investor.

The (NEW) Attic recently re-opened at 1010 North Main St, (Main St/Washington Ave)

And now, after nearly four years since the 18b-Blast, progress is happening in 1018 S Main St.

We know the new owners are from Pahrump, NV. We hear that this building along with a cluster directly across the street will soon become restaurants and bars. This white-wash may not come close to the amazing murals that not only once-graced this building but also paved the way for this district to form- but it's much better than seeing it shuttered. Take a walk in 18b soon and often, you'll be amazed at the changes taking shape every day. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

People are movin and that's just groovin

“People are movin and that’s just groovin- I like to ride the bus!”

Black Camaro fans will recognize this lyric from their song “I Like To Ride The Buss” ©2004

Never heard of it?

Dear Friends,
I know that many of you would sooner die than to purposefully use public transportation in Las Vegas. OK, maybe die is a little extreme, but chances are that you do not utilize our public transit system when common sense, frugality and responsibility should dictate otherwise. Granted, your reasons for resisting the alternative to vehicle ownership are probably very accurate. I won’t go into those reasons here, I have heard all of these woes before and I do understand how you feel. Believe me.

Rather than dwelling on your past experiences, please allow me to share with you 9 reasons that I like to ride the bus. I could have had 10 (or even more) but I have always been fond of the number 9. I was born in the 9th month, my youth soccer number was 9, my junior high computer was #9. Revolution #9, 3 times 3 is 9. And 9 seems like plenty of good reasons to convince the willing of what they might be missing when they cling to their automobiles.

#1. Safety. While safety was not one of the initial reasons for opting out of vehicle ownership, it was immediately apparent how much safer one is travelling inside a bus, rather than operating a vehicle or even riding in someone else's. Las Vegas drivers are stereo-typically more reckless than many other cities (something I always attributed to the immense transplant population) and rather than combating this perilous situation with slower streets, shorter blocks and efficient mass transit, the RTC of Southern Nevada decided to make every thoroughfare a super highway with minimal pedestrian access. And while there have been a couple of tragic collisions with bus stops, of 114 traffic-related fatalities in our community last year, not one of those people were riding the bus when they met their demise.  

#2. The watchful eye. No doubt you are familiar with “people-watching”, a fabulous Las Vegas pastime popular in airports, casinos, shopping malls and just about everywhere including riding the bus. But even better than people-watching is”city-watching” ™. Particularly on the Westcliff Airport Express, but also on any route, take an elevated seat near the rear and watch the city go by, taking mental notes of what is new and old in our ever-evolving city. I love being able to stare out the window without needing to pay attention to the road.

“Wow! Steel Engineers is gone?”
“Look! Fletcher Jones is being demolished.”
“What is that moving in over there? Another Dotty’s!?”

It’s not just big picture stuff either. I see friends and neighbors going about their business, stealthily while passing by unannounced in the anonymous people-mover.
I seeeee you.

#3. Colorful bus drivers are entertaining characters. Not always, but quite often, you are greeted by a jolly man or woman who has a wealth of knowledge in the most obscure areas of expertise. Or maybe a playful flirt who makes the ladies blush.

#4. Personal meditation time+travel+exercise=excellent multi-tasking.  Much like the city and people watching, I enjoy a little quiet “Me time” where I can reflect or read or close my eyes. Meanwhile, I am still getting to my destination while doing so . So many of those motorists I see from my window seat appear very sleepy and I recall many drowsy commutes of my own, which makes me feel sorry for them in their crunch to get where they are going. That and it is clearly more dangerous to be operating an automobile while sleepy.

#5. Eavesdropping. Oh boy. I tell ya… the things you overhear while riding the bus!?! Be aware, however, that different routes cater to different folks and depending on which route you are travelling on, will determine just how raucous or still silent the carriage will be. Charleston, for example, never a dull moment, while Alta is comparably very calm and quiet.

#6. The people of our city. As previously prefaced, different routes carry different valley residents and love em or leave em, being this close to some of our neighbors who are in the lowest possible socioeconomic condition is humbling and makes me appreciate the little things that we take for granted day in, day out. I feel much closer to my community this way than if I were traveling alone (in my own little world), isolated from my surroundings. Many people likely feel “safe” travelling this way, but I prefer the lively feeling I get being surrounded by other humans.

#7. Taking it slow. Within two hours of time, I will have walked at least two miles, taken care of my shopping errands, enjoyed a quiet lunch overlooking a golf course and enjoyed approximately 54 minutes of personal reflection time aka time spent riding the bus. As I re-read what I just wrote, I feel that I have to clarify that these are all welcome events to my day. The long walks, the peace and quiet, gazing at the city from my bus window. All good things.

#8. R.W.I. (Riding While Intoxicated) If you have seen the latest national ad campaign for Las Vegas, it turns out that we are a city of “Enablers”. As it is, I am in no position to argue with them. As self-medicating individuals, the only sane decision for us is to opt out of driving, so that we may safely imbibe anytime and anywhere we so choose. Let’s stay alive and outside of prison.

#9. Going Green. Honestly, it had not occurred to me initially that we would be drastically reducing our carbon footprint by opting for public transit over vehicle ownership, but it’s very true. #9.5: “Footprint, shmootprint. Climate change is a liberal myth.” you say? Well, for you, I say that spending $3-$5, 4 or 5 times per month sure beats the cost of gasoline, insurance and general vehicle maintenance. Going green with cash is a surefire way to pick up your spirits!


Just 4 blocks south of Bonneville Transit Center and easily accessible by RTC routes 206 (Charleston), 108 (Paradise), The Deuce and Strip/Downtown Express.