This story is about a steel pole. In its heyday it held up a hotel sign that competed for attention on the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard between the Strip and Downtown, stuck in among the wedding chapels and tattoo parlors and other blinking Atomic Age motels.
This is Oscar’s Pole, maybe two stories tall, about a foot wide. You know it’s Oscar’s Pole because it says so right on it, in red, 7-inch vinyl letters. It was supposed to be an inside joke, a dick joke actually, between Mayor Oscar Goodman and Raymond Pistol, owner of the Talk of the Town strip club and adult store. Pistol named the pole after hizzoner because right next to it is a slab of concrete where imprints of Goodman’s hands and feet are forever embedded. It’s what Pistol hopes is the first installation of his half-cocked, very Vegas project to make a Hollywood-style Walk of Stars, featuring local notables, on Las Vegas Boulevard. (Never mind that there’s already such a thing farther up on the Strip. Those are star-shaped clichés whose cheesiness inspired Pistol to create his own vision, in his own neighborhood, to honor a mishmash of Las Vegans such as Howard Hughes, Bugsy Siegel, Oscar Goodman “and that Mormon preacher, what’s-his-name?”)
Pistol calls it “Legends of Las Vegas,” a hopeful attraction to link his forgotten stretch of the boulevard to the Strip and Downtown through a string of celebrity memorials dotting storefronts. These concrete slabs won’t just feature handprints. They will be solar-powered, multimedia mini-shrines embedded with aluminum containers that will house a piece of a celebrity’s memorabilia. (Oscar’s holds a casino chip.) And it won’t cost taxpayers a thing. That’s because Pistol doesn’t want any bureaucratic red-tape bullshit. So he’ll be asking neighboring business owners to host slabs on their properties. As in, not on the city’s sidewalk. “This way, we don’t need permits and all that crap,” Pistol says.
But this is a story about Oscar’s Pole. Because without Oscar’s Pole, no one would know that 1238 Las Vegas Boulevard S. is the beginning of a future tourist attraction. And so, Oscar’s Pole half-assedly stands guard as only a sawed-off former hotel sign pole can, its red vinyl lettering blistered and peeling. “The letters are just plastic,” Pistol says. “They fall off, and we just put ’em back on.”