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Drive Carefully, Come Back Soon

We all know umpteen thousand people move here each month. What about the other side of that statistic? Ten former Las Vegans reflect on the city they no longer call their own

Jason Katsikis

Occupation in Vegas: Magician

Time here: 2002-2003

Now: Bartends in New Jersey

What I miss about Las Vegas: "I miss the excitement. Vegas is New York with bigger boobs, blond hair and cash."

What I don't miss: "Everyone was false and always had some kind of façade to put up. It was hard to find the real person in Vegas behind the masks. There were too many masks."

Mark Huff

Occupation in Vegas: Musician

Time here: 1963-2003

Now: Lives in Nashville, still pursuing music career

What I miss about Las Vegas: "A couple of restaurants: Capozzolis and Pasta Mia. There's no good Italian food in Nashville."

What I don't miss: "Crystal meth-addicted strippers."

Eric Lewis

Occupation in Vegas: Supply chain manager

Time here: 1996-1999

Now: Lives in LA.

What I miss about Las Vegas: "Affordable housing and friends, 24-hour services."

What I don't miss: "The lack of business outside of the casino industry; lack of professional atmosphere; lack of opportunities for black professionals; no diversity in people or in careers."

Dawn Bass

Occupation in Vegas: Website content editor

Time here: 1999-2001

Now: Medical editor in Seattle

What I miss about Las Vegas: "I miss terribly banal things, like seeing the lights of the city come up after a long hike in Red Rock Canyon and watching the sun go down from the Sky Lounge. Pretty-Vegas things. I miss coyotes in the dumpsters instead of rats and homeless people. I miss tarantulas. I miss being lost in the desert and scared as hell. I miss being on top of a mountain and tired as hell."

What I don't miss: "I don't miss watching those things be devoured by developers whose mothers didn't love them enough to breast-feed."

Melissa Schorr

Occupation in Vegas: Las Vegas Sun reporter

Time here: 1997-1999

Now: Freelance journalist, soon-to-be-published novelist living in Seattle

What I miss about Las Vegas:

"The insider feeling of being a local in a tourist town—and being treated like one.

"The chance to see the next great American city as it's being built.

"The perks: free parking, free drinks, casino grand-opening parties.

"The lifestyle: my swimming pool, golfing year-round, summer-stock theater out at Spring Mountain Ranch, tooling around town in my green Jeep Wrangler, brand-new houses for under $200,000.

"The thrill of driving an out-of-towner up the Strip, past the Bellagio fountain, the Eiffel Tower, the New York skyline, the Luxor Pyramid.

"The 'only in Vegas' stories and cast of characters.

"Mostly, the incredibly adventurous, quirky, fascinating people I befriended there."

What I don't miss:

"Outsiders mystified at why anyone would want to live in Vegas.

"The insular nature of a one-industry town.

"The sleaze: escort pamphlets littering the Strip, inescapable cigarette smoke, prevalent pawn shops, slot addicts at the 7-Eleven.

"Most of the Strip shows: all spectacle, no substance.

"The Fremont Street Experience.

"The isolation of the desert: few places to day-trip.

"The car culture: lack of a great urban park or usable walking trails.

"The growth: that empty lot adjacent to your home suddenly turned into a 24-hour Wal-Mart.

"The impending threat of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain."


Occupation in Vegas: Dancer

Time here: 2000-2004

Now: She's a waitress in New Jersey

What I miss about Las Vegas: "I miss the weather and my friends."

What I don't miss: "I don't miss the crazy, drugged-out people."

Cindy Sexton

Occupation in Vegas: Anchor, KLAS Channel 8.

Time here: 1984-1985

Now: News anchor, Chattanooga, Tennessee

What I miss about Las Vegas: "In every way, Las Vegas is full of energy and entertainment and a great place to work in news. We loved the fact that so many places were open 24 hours and not just the tourist places. How great to be able to see a movie, go bowling in a casino, pick up dry-cleaning or eat eggs Benedict at 2 a.m."

What I don't miss: "The wind and dust. I got used to the heat."

Rob Bhatt

Occupation in Vegas: Journalist

Time here: 1998-2000; 2003-2004

Now: Magazine editor in San Francisco

What I miss about Las Vegas:

"Some of the conveniences of living in Las Vegas, like being able to find parking anywhere, any time of day, and the widespread availability of housing—for rent or purchase.

"I miss that feeling of empowerment from knowing that no matter what happened on any particular night, I would never hear the words 'last call.'

"I miss living so close to good golf courses with affordable summer rates.

"I miss the Dr. Pepper-marinated steak tacos at the Roadrunner on Buffalo and the barbecued shrimp skewers at the Roadrunner on West Flamingo.

"I miss the bar at Simon.

"I miss the Lon Bronson All-Star Band."

What I don't miss: "All that dust. The constant clang of video poker and slot machines that follow you around just about everywhere in Las Vegas. The high-speed tailgaters."

Talance Sawyer

Occupation in Vegas: UNLV student, football player.

Time here: 1995-1999

Now: Lives in Bastrop, Louisiana; planning NFL comeback (he'd played with the Minnesota Vikings) after 18 months off due to injury.

What I miss about Las Vegas: "I miss the lights and that there's always something to do no matter what time it is."

What I don't miss: "I don't miss the heat nor the rare rain showers."

Timothy McDarrah

Occupation in Vegas: Sun gossip columnist

Time here: 2001-2004

Now: Correspondent for Us Magazine, New York.

What I miss about Las Vegas: "Sonny King and friends at the Bootlegger; the never-ceasing thrill of seeing the Strip lit up at night and the plethora of buffets. Burp! I miss seeing Rachel Smith on the TV news. Michael Cagle at karaoke night—at every locale in town. Most of all, I miss Celine."

What I don't miss: "Hearing 'Wheel ... of ... FORTUNE' slot machines. The weather. The 215."

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