It was clearly my most memorable moment in my three or so years at Las Vegas Weekly.
With the annual air show at Nellis Air Force Base coming up, I got permission to go up in an F-15. The first 15 minutes were spectacular: We got special permission to do a vertical, rocket-like shot into the air, we did loops, we pulled what I recall as a million Gs.
Then I blacked out.
I came to right away. But my body wasn’t having it. It decided to vomit out whatever it was that made me black out. And vomit, and vomit. I must’ve thrown up 20 times into a plastic bag Nellis hands out for just such special occasions.
- A decade of Weekly
- Ten years that shook the world: Our highlight reel (12/18/08)
- Weekly's biggest bylines (12/18/08)
- My letters editor, my friend (12/18/08)
- The controversy of the decade (12/18/08)
- It sounded good at the time (a few things we regret) (12/18/08)
After a longish story about Satan worshippers in Vegas, a woman called to say she had the devil’s picture. I met her at Starbucks on Paradise. She had massive, collagen-injected lips and dark, heroin-dried circles under her eyes, an exaggeration matched by the huge collar of her fur coat and the over-torn holes in her jeans.
She pulled out Polaroids of her in panties and a bra, perched like a gargoyle on the windowsill of a Strip hotel.
The devil? She saw it in a flash reflection on the window.
I gave her the phone number of a psychologist and county social services. I was at a loss. She needed help I could not provide.
Area 51 holds a special place in my heart. I’d talked to staff about trying to infiltrate that place to find out where all the dead bodies—alien bodies—were buried.
Then again, I didn’t want to get shot on sight.
So the annual UFO conference in Laughlin, and the UFO crash retrieval conference in Las Vegas, came close to being there. If you haven’t been to either, you’re missing out. If, that is, you have an open mind.
The stories and open-eyed wonderment of some attendees are a blessing to behold. Remote viewing. Polar, under-ice biospheres. Alien-human hybrids.
The weird in Vegas always attracted me.
But I jumped at a chance, too, to cover the 2000 Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. Not from the Staples Center, where the speeches were made. But from the streets, where Rage Against the Machine played and people marched and the LAPD did everything they could to denigrate human exuberance.
I was not only pepper-sprayed, but one cop also nailed me with a billy club—I was taking notes on an old man and a teenager arguing, when we were surrounded by cops in riot gear; one of them hit me in the shoulder for kicks—and a rubber bullet bounced off the street and tore a hole through my shorts.
I’ve never been to downtown LA since.
I lasted three years at the Weekly.
It was a fun gig. Las Vegas is a rare place, and the alternative-weekly format provides the space and audience to sit front and center, then write about all that madness.
Joe Schoenmann held several positions at the Weekly in his time here, from staff writer to editor and back again. He now works for the Las Vegas Sun.