What do you do in 24 hours? Sleep, eat, work and maybe go out after? Bet we did more on March 8, the day we picked for our 24 Hours in Las Vegas project. During each hour, a different writer, photographer or illustrator ventured out to a specific location — from the seemingly mundane to the potentially exhilarating — and each returned with a report on what they experienced. Pieced together like a puzzle, they might reveal something new about our curious corner of the desert.
Midnight, University Medical Center Emergency Room
What better place to kick off 24 hours in Las Vegas than somewhere nobody wants to go? Only, when you don’t need to be here, it’s not so bad. The Simpsons is showing on a flat-screen TV; the guy a few seats away is reading an old issue of the Weekly; a few people are napping under blankets; and everyone else is leaning tenderly against a buddy. In our middle-of-the-night ER dress code of pajamas and sweatpants, it almost feels like a slumber party among strangers. There’s already free Wi-Fi; let’s order pizza!
More than anything, though, it’s boring. No gunshot wounds are rushed through the doors. No severed limbs. No surprise deliveries from women who didn’t realize they were pregnant. The lady sitting next to me looks like the sickest person in here, groaning and rocking in her chair. Then she stands and tells her companion she’ll wait in the car. She’s not even the patient.
I kill time playing House: Rash at 3 o’clock must be allergies. Virus at 12 is something picked up abroad. The new guy at 11 carries a large metal pot that he’s clearly been puking into. Environmental toxins? Food poisoning? Parasites? Watching him heave feels voyeuristic, like a tourist sightseeing in a war zone.
Now Friends is on, the perkiness of the cast off-pitch in this quiet sick box. A couple has fallen asleep in a corner, heads on shoulders, hands intertwined. A few chairs away, a family waits for a patient, and nearby another couple talks quietly through the woman’s winces. It’s 1 a.m. at the UMC Emergency Room, and nearly everyone here has a loved one caring for them. Tonight, that’s all the comfort I need. — Sarah Feldberg
1 a.m., Tryst at the Wynn
Tryst, you’re bumpin’ tonight.
Sidney Samson’s been killing it since he stepped up to the booth, getting everyone in the room — from the bachelorette party wearing floppy, white bunny ears to the bachelorette party wearing floppy, white sashes — to shake what they've got. The club’s big outdoor waterfall makes the whole thing even more cinematic.
I can’t help feeling like this is all a little staged, though. See, it’s a who’s who of Vegas nightlife tropes: You’ve got the very overt bottle poppers at the table by the DJ booth and dance floor, repping shiny shirts and shinier dresses. And there’s “That Guy,” ridiculously dressed and having a blast. He looks like either the Riddler or that government money infomercial guy. Then there’s an older Texas oil millionaire leering at the woman on the club’s stripper pole. (I have no way of knowing that the guy is from Texas or that he’s an oil millionaire, but his epic belt buckle tells me both are true.)
Maybe we’re all part of a TV commercial shoot. But if that were so, the small cadre of meek conventiongoers on the dance floor — tell-tale signs include tucked-away lanyards and the khakiest of khakis — would have started doing something really wacky by now. But no, they’re just leaving the wacky to everyone else.
I guess it really is just another night at Tryst. — Jorge Labrador
2 a.m., Tacos El Gordo, 3049 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
It’s impossible to predict when the masses will converge for the best/cheapest late-night grub on the Strip. At 2 in the morning it’s half-full. The tables inside the taco shop are all quiet chewing, save for one slickly dressed post-club foursome speaking rowdy Spanish and laughing loud in that shameless drunkVegas way. One of these girls is wearing the tightest, tealest dress I’ve ever seen, a color that deserves its own Crayola.
The staff at Tacos El Gordo is usually chipper, but tonight they seem exhausted. I am, too. There’s no joy when they saw off roasted pork and shards of pineapple from a vertical rotisserie for my tacos adobada, but that’s OK, it’s still delicious.
A tall man with a square jaw, radio earpiece, stylish navy suit and shiny brown shoes gets in line. They know him. He wants four lengua and two cabeza, an impressively funky order for a dude who looks like Captain America. Suddenly, the unpredictable mass. Small groups pile in, with a few stragglers lingering outside, finishing cigarettes. One of those Girls Direct to You mobile billboard drivers is hungry. A man and a woman carry a second woman in and release her, melting into a booth. She’s in bad drunkVegas shape. The man is holding both ladies’ shoes.
I’m likely the only sober person here, which feels wrong. Sober eyes are not supposed to see this scene. — Brock Radke
3 a.m., Wizard of Suds laundromat, 4275 Arville St.
At 3 a.m. on a Friday, Wizard of Suds is not a very magical place.
One lonely load of clothes spins in a dryer underneath a television tuned to CNN, reporting the capture of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, as Al Green croons “Let’s Stay Together” over the radio. The laundromat sits around the corner from the Palms, next to a convenience store and across the parking lot from a pole-dancing class near Arville Street and Flamingo Road.
Charles Clowney mops the floor, as he does six nights a week, and wipes down the machines to keep them shining. It’s a lonely job in the middle of the night, but he says he likes the quiet. “Some people like to come in here at this time, because it’s so quiet and they can sit and just relax,” he says. “This is the end of the week. It gets busiest at this time on Saturdays and Sundays.”
At 3:30 a couple wheels in a large roller bag. They’re not tourists. The bag is empty and they’re using it to haul their laundry.
“Still going, huh?” the man says, plugging in his cellphone to charge. The woman checks the laundry, proclaims it dry and proceeds to fold it. The Bee Gees sing “Emotion” on the radio. The couple leaves. The man returns. He forgot his phone. It’s late, after all.
The Wizard of Suds is still and quiet, except for the radio and a large video-game console — the arcade kind people used to play 30 years ago. It’s erupting in sounds, beckoning someone to play it, but at this time of the morning, there’s no one around to hear. — Ron Sylvester
4 a.m., Sirens of TI webcam
I’m staring at the Sirens of TI set from across the Strip, from across the state line, in L.A. I’m on my computer, at my friend’s apartment, looking at a live webcam feed. I’d planned to stare at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign webcam for the hour, but it’s down.
I can’t see much. Just the outline of one of the ships and a red and white sign in the background. Mostly I see black. So I’m left with my thoughts …
I remember seeing the show as a kid when it had an all-male cast, before things got sexed up.
The Sirens are in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition right now — part of this year’s Vegas theme. I should have gone out with that Sirens girl two years ago. When else would I get the chance to date a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition model? How many other doors have closed on me in the past two years?
God, that hour depressed me. Time for bed. — Rick Lax
5 a.m., Las Vegas Boulevard South
It’s dark. It’s wet. It’s empty except for the brave souls going for early runs and the people paid to set tables and unstack chairs. It’s a rainy morning on the Strip as captured through Sam Morris’ photographs.
6 a.m., Freed’s Bakery, 9815 S. Eastern Ave.
The world is dark, waiting. But inside Freed’s the pastry case is glowing like E.T.’s heart. Even through the window I see every sprinkle on the shortbread-cookie stars, every coconut shred on cupcakes frosted like perfect clouds. The doors won’t open for three more hours, but the bakery is already putting off heat.
Elves in crisp white aprons are stenciling fondant butterflies and piping frosting in a labyrinth of seasoned wood, plastic buckets and enormous mixers pummeling butter, flour and eggs. I have the urge to dip my entire arm in a vat of Bavarian cream.
Abel Requejado layers squares of raw dough with cinnamon and walnuts, rolling and pinching and sugaring the “delco” as he tells tales of growing up in Argentina. His hands pour and press the sweet granules like elegant machines.
Next to a spinning oven full of pies, Timothy Kavanagh works edible canvases smeared with cherries, cream cheese and crumble into exploding wreaths that bake into beautiful coffee cakes. He sinks beer-infused marshmallows into a pool of dark chocolate, gently reminding me to sprinkle crushed pretzels on top before they dry.
The decorating section is a rainbow of tiny toys and rolls of satin ribbon. Brittnee Klinger cuts out white polka dots and eyes their placement on a glossy red birthday cake crowned with Minnie Mouse. Like Abel and Timothy, she just knows when it’s right.
Freed’s has been doing it by feel in Las Vegas since 1959. I tell third-generation owner Max Jacobson-Fried that their buttercream is the best in town. He tells me it’s the same recipe they’ve been making for 50 years.
“When it works, it works,” he says. And he doesn’t flinch when I tuck into the beer-mallows for breakfast. — Erin Ryan
7 a.m., Starbucks, 2295 N. Green Valley Parkway
Overheard by Leslie Ventura during the morning coffee rush:
“I’ve got plenty of alcohol.”
“I’ve got about 10 bottles of Jack Daniel’s.”
“Haha! I got Jack Daniel’s. I got a bottle of Crown Royal that dates back to 1970!”
“You need to Google Craigslist.”
“What do you want to do this weekend?”
“We could barbecue some hamburgers.”
“You gotta be careful to not get involved in bulls--t.”
“It’s not bulls--t.”
“The news is full of bulls--t.”
“Communists is what we are.”
“You have Netflix?”
“I don’t watch TV.”
“You’ve got to watch Lost.”
“I’m gonna go outside and smoke a cigarette — slowly kill myself.”
“Are we gonna get breakfast or what?”
“I could use those in my garden.”
“It’s like, uh, you don’t understand, dude.”
“I’ve got a Venti Vanilla Bean Frappucino with extra caramel.”
8 a.m., Commute to Greenspun Media Group offices on the 215
A peaceful Friday drive, interpreted by Las Vegas Sun cartoonist Mike Smith.
9 a.m., UNLV campus
Intro to Chemistry at 8:30 on a Friday morning sounds like a recipe for naptime, but when I arrive at Professor Bryan Spangelo’s class around 9:15, I can’t spot a single person nodding off (and this is a huge class). There’s a lot of cross-talk going on in the room as graduate student Van Vo takes the class through a lesson on cis- and trans-isomers, whatever those are (I was an English major). She cycles through various Power Point slides, using a laser pointer to indicate important things for students to remember.
There’s a sort of ebb and flow as student chatter rises, followed by student shushing. “Do we want to hear the explanation?” Vo asks the class.
At 9:28, it’s time for a quiz. Five questions. Use your calculator. Scratch paper available at the front of the class. “No phones, no Internet,” Prof. Spangelo admonishes from the back of the room.
By 9:37, the first students have finished the quiz, and the room starts to empty out. Ten minutes later, Prof. Spangelo is patiently helping the stragglers, staying behind to make sure everyone has completed the quiz and understood the lesson. Not one person fell asleep. — Josh Bell
10 a.m., DMV, 1399 American Pacific Drive
The scoreboard-looking mechanism flashes “G-204” as I walk in. A father and son arrive at 10:15 a.m., and wait … and wait …
A guy wearing a wool cap with ear flaps, a too-tight orange T-shirt and camouflage pants removes a chair from the carefully ordered rows so he can sit with his back against the wall. With his well-tattooed arms folded, he never seems to take his eyes off the scoreboard. A cold, emotionless female voice announces numbers, and he looks over at me. “This is like bingo hell here!”
There’s a payphone, and it gets lots of use — as a support for those too tired to stand on their own, as a hard surface for writing important information on forms or, in the case of one woman, as a place to put her purse while she peruses the vending machines.
At 10:21 a.m. comes the sound I’ve been expecting — a baby crying. Another little girl is all smiles, her father choosing Cheetos from the vending machine. A husband helps straighten out his wife’s hair before she has her picture taken.
The last number called as I get up to leave: G-274. Father and son are still waiting. — Ken Miller
11 a.m., Las Vegas Athletic Club, 5200 W. Sahara Ave.
Over the threshold of the Las Vegas Athletic Club at precisely 11 a.m. — and Wham! Wow! Awesome! OMG! Go! I’m in position and stretching: left, right, down the middle, hold for 5.
There’s a lot of counting going on here, maybe even more than in the casinos. The gym is full of human metronomes. Set elliptical machine at level 7 for 20 minutes. I rev up in front of a bank of 28 TV screens. The NASDAQ is up by 7 points on monitor 14. The Jodi Arias trial is in Week 9 on monitor 12. I persevere.
There’s a light crowd in the Cardio Entertainment Center. We like it that way — pre-lunch rush. We get professionals, students, call girls, bodyguards, bouncers and college professors. Two ellipticals over, a tall Latino with longish hair is seemingly running on air, his huge feet lifting off the foot pads, gracefully pointed. In the ab and core training area, a 75-year-old Asian man, wearing a weight belt, is pressing 140 on the incline: He knows he’s cool.
I survey my speed and distance. When Asher Monroe belts out “Here With You,” I’ve done 2 miles in 18 minutes.
The ab area has the best view of fitness room 1, currently hosting high-octane women in step class. I move around the weight machines, set the vertical contractor at 7 for 3 sets of 8. On a leg press, a huge guy grunts the number of each push while his pixie-size trainer sips water from a lime-green bottle that matches her shoes. By the time I get to the lower back press, I can smell paninis in the cafe. It’s 11:42 — time to pick up speed.
In the free-weight room, tribal tattoos are bulging. Two 20-something women take turns spotting each other at the bench press — judging from the 42-inch cleavage and upper-arm strength, they’re pole dancers. I stare into the mirrors reflecting the iridescent blue of the spring Nevada sky. I could almost meditate if the sound system were turned down. Another woman on the cable machine asks if I’m done — she has a Swedish accent and wants my chest bar. 8, 9, 10. ... The lunch crowd is here, and I’m done. — Dawn-Michelle Baude
Noon, Social House at Crystals
I love the hustle and bustle of the Strip, but sometimes I have to escape. My budget doesn’t always allow for a quick trip to San Diego, so I’ve found a local respite — on the Strip, no less.
My secret Friday lunchtime spot, Social House inside Crystals at CityCenter, is my zen on the Strip. The ambience, chef, staff, food and service have a rare calming effect.
There’s no rush to dine and dash. The music is peaceful, the soft violins and flutes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha. I’m as big a fan of EDM as any, but I don’t need it during mealtime. Shoppers walk by with bags from Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Tom Ford and peruse the menu; (sadly) only a few stay to eat.
My indulgent lunch includes yellowtail, scallop and Japanese snapper sashimi, seared Kobe beef, a hearty bowl of ramen, plus Social House’s amazing coffee. So good, I almost don’t mind that my secret is out. — Don Chareunsy
1 p.m., Sushi Mon, 9770 S. Maryland Parkway #3
The tally for my all-you-can-eat lunch:
1 seaweed salad
3 baked mussels
4 pieces tuna sushi
4 pieces salmon sushi
6 pieces salmon belly sushi
6 pieces yellowtail sushi
2 pieces super white tuna sushi
2 pieces salmon roe sushi
2 pieces masago sushi with quail egg
2 pieces fresh scallop sushi
2 pieces garlic tuna sushi
2 pieces Cajun albacore sushi
2 pieces white clam sushi
2 pieces yuzu tobiko sushi
1 spicy tuna hand roll
4 pieces lemon roll
3 pieces red dragon roll
4 pieces 007 roll
6 pieces eel roll
1 piece scallop yum yum roll
1 scoop lychee sorbet
1 two-hour nap. — Spencer Patterson
2 p.m., Runnin’ Rebels practice, Thomas & Mack Center
Hope springs eternal in the Thomas & Mack Center, where every UNLV basketball practice is a chance to fix the mistakes of the past and improve the future. The players file in slowly and take their warm-up shots before doing their actual warm-ups with stretch bands and foam rollers on the court.
Fan attendance is sparse, only a handful of the regulars who frequent the Rebels’ practices throughout the season. This is the last regular one of these for three seniors — Anthony Marshall, Justin Hawkins and Quintrell Thomas — and freshman Anthony Bennett, and probably junior Mike Moser, too.
You wouldn’t know this from any of their actions, though. The rhythm and feeling on the court is like an average practice (which, looking back, could have been a warning sign for the March 9 loss to Fresno State as 14-point favorites).
In this moment, though, that game is still just a thought. Right now practice is picking up with game plans and more bodies in motion. At the center stands coach Dave Rice overseeing his team’s effort, and occasionally lack thereof.
There is work to be done, more than can ever be accomplished in one practice. But they will try. — Taylor Bern
3 p.m., Sunset Station bingo parlor
My grandparents were big fans of bingo and the blue plate special. This might be Vegas retirement in a stereotypical nutshell, still alive and well at Sunset Station’s bingo parlor in the middle of the afternoon.
Grandmother types are all gussied up for the occasion just as mine used to be, some wearing trinket-encrusted sweaters, others toting caddies designed specifically for their extensive dauber collections. The room is overwhelmingly silver-haired, with a few middle-aged folks and even a couple 20-somethings like me.
As the game begins, the parlor quiets, everyone concentrating on their paper packs and machines, hoping for a jackpot. I start daubing my sheet and quickly realize: I don’t know how to play bingo.
The ladies in front of me give some guidance. “We love helping out new players.” And the game goes on. A lot of people win a lot of money. One winner even scores a free buffet!
At the end, I ask the ladies if they bring any good luck charms to the bingo room. They say no before correcting themselves. “Just each other.” Lesson learned: Always bring a buddy to bingo. — Mark Adams
4 p.m., Bass Pro Shops at the Silverton
“Daaaaamn, that’s a nice bow.” A man at the Bass Pro Shops ogles my archery equipment much the way a guy might check out a hot girl at a club.
It seems Bass is the only place in town where one can literally open up a can of Whoop Ass and buy an ugly stick (evidently a beginner’s fishing pole). Plus, upstairs customers can unleash their inner Hunger Games desires at the archery range.
Local Gia Vuong shoots with a bow he acquired via the “you-break-it-you-buy-it” method at another archery store. Vuong says he got into archery (and motorcycle stunts and parkour) because he likes to do the kinds of things most people only fantasize about.
A crowd of children peers through the window to watch us, and I briefly feel like I’m letting the girls down. Sure, I’m no Katniss, but the boys have strong compound bows with sights and trigger releases! At least I have my Bass Pro Shops admirer. Damn, this is a nice bow. — Allison Duck
5 p.m., Yard House at Red Rock Resort
Seven Happy Hour observations:
1. Yard House has assembled the most absolutely innocuous classic rock playlist ever. Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun” is as close to controversial as this place can muster.
2. Come to think of it, everything about Yard House is pretty innocuous — food, vibe, even the patrons. It’s genetically engineered to thrive and survive.
3. All these newfangled insulated beer lines work great but come at a price: no cellphone coverage.
4. There is a 5-foot-tall girl drinking from a half-yard. Since the beer is more than a quarter her height, she’s ingeniously set it on a barstool and is drinking through a straw. She’s a freakin’ modern day MacGyver, but she’s also wasting a stool at an incredibly crowded bar.
5. Speaking of half-yards, Yard House has a strange rule: They can’t serve you a beer until you’re halfway done with the one in front of you; however, they can serve you two beers in a half-yard. Go figure.
6. Poor Amanda. She’s stuck between Charlie the PA and Marcus the medical sales guy — both married out-of-towners expressing some serious interest. I’m waiting for a gladiator-style battle to go down any time now.
7. My bartender informs me that a tulip glass is “a fancy glass for a fancy beer.” Yeah, that just happened. — Jim Begley
6 p.m., Animal Foundation, 655 N. Mojave Road
As we walk the yard, he couldn’t be getting more attention if he were wearing a leather jacket. A shy little boy curiously eyes him. A couple of older ladies in rain gear marvel at his long stride. Because he’s not coming home with me, I sigh and let everyone know he’s a free agent. It’s clear he’s going home with someone. Unsurprisingly, he’s the Fonz.
I’d been innocently soaking it all in: the cold, drizzly night, the hooded figures shuffling between colorful out-buildings, families lingering in front of kennels, prancing pups licking the air. But I had no idea the spell the Fonz was about to put me under. A tiny white poodle mix with extraordinarily long legs, he shook once as the door to his pen swung open, then practically jumped into my coat.
This isn’t the animal shelter most of us are familiar with, and it’s not just Fonz’s doing. The kennels are new and inviting. No one pressures you to take a pet home. The animals here speak for themselves.
And the approach seems to work. People browse from kennel to kennel, bringing dogs out for damp strolls in grassy lots filled with toys and treats. A friendly lady with a Jamaican accent stands in front of a pen that reads “Big Boy” with a friend. “We have to take him out,” she says. “Just look at him!”
“Yeah, Big Boy’s alright,” I think as I walk by, “but he’s no Arthur Fonzarelli.” — Molly O’Donnell
7 p.m., Greyhound Bus Station, 200 S. Main St.
Pimps prey on disembarking, wide-eyed Midwestern girls here. At least, that’s the urban tale of the Greyhound bus station at the far south end of the Union Plaza Hotel and Casino. “Nothing good comes out of the bus station,” a lifelong resident tells me.
But this night, there is some good here. The 2-year-old girl. She’s with her mom on this cold, rainy evening, headed to San Diego. She shakes a little. It’s cold and she has no coat.
Of the 30 or so others, no one looks like a pimp — no heavy gold chains, crushed velour jackets, broad collars or big hats with feathers, Huggy Bear-style. They just look poorer. The dregs, the leftover grains at the bottom of the cup. Some are over-used, used up.
“Where you headed?” one asks. His entire body shakes with chill, fever, withdrawal.
He’s not so much talking to the other man as he is the other man’s self-rolled cigarette. The other man wears seven necklaces of Mardi Gras beads, one of the strings looped over his ear. His jeans aren’t just tattered, the bottoms like look like they were shredded to make field bandages. Beadman sings, “Say-y-y-y Pasadena.” Then stands. “Skoo-skoo-skoo!”
Security walks up and whispers to him. “What, man, I gotta check in?” Beadman says. Security walks away.
No one looks directly at Beadman.
A few seats away, a young man talks into his iPhone, holding it like a microphone but never putting it to his ear. If someone is on the other end, they don’t talk. For 11 minutes he prattles on. Someone, he says, is “finally treating me like the way it’s supposed to be, what I used to take for granted. Ain’t nothing wrong with me. I am blessed. Right here. Alive!”
His confession is marked with moments of outright mania, then tempered with self-deprecations of how he must do better.
Overhead a clerk announces the next city. Walkie-talkie man gets in line. Beadman walks outside and disappears into the night. — Joe Schoenmann
8 p.m., Zarkana at Aria Resort & Casino
“Are you afraid of heights?” It’s less of a question than a statement, as by the time a non-committal response has left my lips, I’m standing on a steep, narrow bridge of metal grates 50 feet above the stage of Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana.
“You’ll be fine, it’s not that high,” technical director Mick Littlewood says, having already crossed the bridge to the main rigging platform. He’s right to rush — there’s just 30 minutes left of the show, and there’s a lot to be done.
Just don’t look down, I think, and of course I do: Directly beneath my feet, a troupe of tumblers and strongmen leap, twist and flip across the stage. Their masterful choreography is just as elegant from the industrial rigging above as from the plush audience seats.
While I cling to the railing, singer and performer Cassiopée leans casually over the edge, chatting with the rigging crew as she waits to be lowered for the show’s final number. Some 15 minutes later, she’s strapped into a harness concealed by her flowing rose-petal gown; she leans back, bouncing playfully in mid-air as she waits.
I head back to the downstairs elevator, where half a dozen clowns in white makeup and gestural white wigs file out; a couple linger by a water cooler, bantering in French between sips from paper cups.
I pass a string of offices lined with vases of red roses; today is a kind of Mother’s Day in Russia, and in keeping with tradition, Zarkana’s Russian cast members have brought the female employees flowers.
The show hasn’t been over for more than five minutes, and the backstage break room is already filled with cast members in various states of undress: A lithe woman in gym shorts, face paint and a wig cap pours herself onto a couch, while another in similar garb munches furiously on carrot sticks in the kitchenette; another performer in a T-shirt and sweats and the seemingly ever-present face paint chats with friends in Russian over a game of pool; yet another shows his visiting parents around the break room before sitting down with them to share some food.
It’s clear that the Cirque cast has maximizing their leisure time down to an art form. No sooner have they settled into casual conversation and power-naps than a voice comes onto the PA system: “All call — house is open!” Within minutes, the break room is empty, and the whimsical creatures of Zarkana take the stage again. — Andrea Domanick
9 p.m., Fremont Street Experience
Rain, rock and straight-faced art on Downtown’s neon thoroughfare, as captured by photographer Bill Hughes.
10 p.m., LVCS, 425 Fremont St.
It’s just before 10 at LVCS and the former country saloon is overrun with Rastafarians in anticipation of a performance by reggae icon H.R. of Bad Brains fame. It’s a rainy night, and Fremont Street below is under construction, but this hasn’t affected attendance. If anything, those potential deterrents have pushed guests who might loiter downstairs up into LVCS and Brass Lounge; both bars are full and lively tonight.
Punks and Rastas sneak pulls from brown paper bags and overflow the open-air smoking deck, spilling into the Brass Lounge as a mixture of budget tourists exploring Fremont Street and devout H.R. fans intermingle and join in a spirited chorus of “Electric Avenue.” I’m alone, but it’s easy to make friends tonight as I bounce from a group of Stetson-wearing Texans to a welcoming band of H.R. enthusiasts waiting for the “rock-Jah” to take the stage. It’s an unexpected mix, and yet completely typical of Las Vegas entertainment. And it works. — Chris Bitonti
11 p.m., Jerry’s Famous Coffee Shop, 1821 Las Vegas Blvd. N.
Jerry’s Famous Coffee Shop is a place you hear of more than actually visit. The restaurant at Jerry’s Nugget in North Las Vegas has been that hotel-casino’s 24-hour café since the property was opened by Jerry Stamis and Jerry Lodge nearly 50 years ago. It used to be the Canal Street Café, but officials changed its name to more firmly align the cafe with the hotel. As you reach the entrance, wide open to the casino, you’re met by a neon sign on the left and a glass case filled with pies on the right. The décor is brown, yellow and orange and gives the sense that pumpkin pie is a favored dessert.
Jerry’s Famous Coffee Shop is where off-duty dancers from the Palomino Club across the street usually choose to dine. On this night, there seem to be no dancers, but we do have a singer.
He’s seated at a table near the middle of the restaurant with a woman who appears to be his wife and two younger folks I take for his son and daughter. He’s a big guy, in a brown sweater and Pittsburgh Steelers cap, and he drops hard to his seat, yanking off his hat and placing it next to his silverware. Then he starts singing something in the gospel genre, sort of “Amazing Grace”-like. I stop twirling the noodles in my Greek spaghetti entree and listen. The woman cuts in with, “Aaaaaah, yeaaaaah!”
They sing for a bit, like that, their voices carrying through the restaurant, until the waitress arrives and asks for their orders. The man has not opened his menu but says, “Signature steak, please.” Then he points to the ceiling and sings, “Yeaaaah, oooh! Hey, hey, hey, hey!” This continues until his check is delivered, but somehow I think we should be paying him. — John Katsilometes