Of all the irrational fears that haunt us—bananas, tiny non-poisonous spiders, drowning in burning oil—perhaps none is as odd as fearing the number 13. After all, it’s just a number. A prime number (backwards and forwards); the one that Alex Rodriguez, Wilt Chamberlain and Dan Marino have worn; the age at which we become a teenager (!), the number of playing cards in a suit; the day Taylor Swift was born (December 13!). And now, perhaps most importantly, it’s the age of Las Vegas Weekly. So, in honor of our big day, enjoy these ramblings, make some killer birthday cake and think back to your own teenage years. Thirteen really isn’t as scary as you might think.
The age of wonder
Thirteen. It’s when we realize rock ’n’ roll is better than baseball. When we nearly burn down our best friend’s house shooting off fireworks. When we run away from home ... and come back a few hours later. When we first fall foolishly in love.
I’m forever transported back to that age of curiosity and change by Big Star’s “Thirteen,” off 1972 album #1 Record. Legend has it Alex Chilton wrote the song when he was 13, and as he gently sings its opening line—“Won’t you let me walk you home from school?”—I’m right there with him, even though I was always more of a bus kid myself.
If that doesn’t have you checking your teeth for braces, you’re sure to flash uncomfortably back as innocence matures into tentative rebellion: “Won’t you tell your dad get off my back?/Tell him what we said ’bout ‘Paint It Black’.” Discovery. Confidence. Confusion. They’re all there in “Thirteen,” as they once were for us at 13.
Now, to find a ride to the mall … –Spencer Patterson
An asteroid will not hit the earth on Friday the 13th. It’s a close call, though. On April 13, 2029, the 320-meter 2004 MN4 asteroid will miss the earth by 18,600 miles. Yes, that’s a close call. Geosynchronous satellites orbit the earth at 22,300 miles.
Now, there’s a chance the earth’s gravitational pull will alter the asteroid’s trajectory. There’s a chance the asteroid will circle around and hit us in the late 2030s. Right now, we can’t be sure. We need more data. And lucky for us, we’ll be able to get that data in 2013 and 2021, when the asteroid will be a mere 9 million miles away from us. See? More good news. –Rick Lax
The coolest 13-year-old on the planet
I was 13 the year Dan Fanelli took me to my first bar.
He was my boyfriend, in the loosest of seventh grade senses—our relationship started through passed notes and confirmed through hand holding and after-school pizza slices. We never kissed, but I didn’t care. I saw in him some fraction of my true middle school crush, My So-Called Life-era Jared Leto. Dan’s hair was (sorta) like Jared’s hair, and his grunts were (kinda) like Jared’s grunts. Basically, they were the same person. Swoon.
The day Dan took me to my first bar was the day of our classmate’s bar mitzvah. The party was at a swanky hotel in Harvard Square, and while we danced, hula-hooped and limboed for CD singles and plastic jewelry, a line stretched enticingly from the famous Regattabar jazz club just down the hall. Dan wanted to go. And, timidly, awkwardly, pre-braces gap-toothedly, I wanted to go with him.
By the time we reached the front, the line was gone and the doorman had miraculously disappeared. Wearing a Burger King crown cocked just so, Dan strolled in and took a seat at a low table like he spent most Saturday nights surrounded by people 20 years his senior listening to jazz. No one even seemed to notice. It was so damn cool.
I, on the other hand, hovered just inside the doorway, wearing my 13 years like an itchy sweater. After a few minutes, a doorman gracefully kicked me out, but Dan stayed behind—tapping his feet and wearing his crown, the coolest 13-year-old on the planet. –Sarah Feldberg
A poem in 13 headlines
When you think about Las Vegas, what do you see?
An orchard in Downtown Las Vegas
Welcome to the spouse factory
Slow down and look at the art
10 pounds of something fresh
Bring on the zombie apocalypse!
Pass the Dirty Vegas popcorn
The revolution will be homeschooled
Welcome to the era of borrowed parties
Who’s crazier: the scam artist doing eyelifts in a living room or her patients?
With John Ensign out, beware Sharron Angle
A die slides, and so does the couple who slid it
If you see one show inside a giant tent this year, make it Absinthe
That one thing
I’ve heard it said that Jill Sprecher’s 2001 film 13 Conversations About One Thing is about happiness. I’ve watched it numerous times and never felt that to be true. To me, it’s always been more about luck vs. fate, the consequences of actions and how we as human beings perceive our lot in life: A lawyer on top of the world who tortures himself (literally) after a hit-and-run; a stoic, philandering professor who wonders if his harsh words caused a student to commit suicide; an office drone who finally wins the lottery and quits his job, only to find the money brings nothing but misery; and, most compelling, an insurance company supervisor who bets that he can make a terminally happy employee unhappy by firing him, only to be plagued by guilt afterward. It offers no answers, only asking the question, “What if I had done things differently?” But whenever I’m feeling particularly lucky—or unlucky—I think back to this film every single time. –Ken Miller
From Facebook, with love
I collect two things: typewriters and addresses. To reach home No. 13, I drove 629 miles (as the Google crow flies) to here, fabulous Las Vegas, with a truck full of books and a fiberglass sailfish. Since that very warm April day, many of my Facebook posts have been inspired by my life and my work in this city. Here are 13 that show my progression as a child of the 702.
1. If you dropped by my house recently with a basket of muffins (aww) and found me missing, this is why. New job, new city, same old boyfriend. Ha ... If anyone is looking to rent a sweet place with a man-eating shrub, let me know. The shrub can be trained not to attack you and your loved ones (it's in the contract).
2. Apparently, sunscreen doesn't work in Nevada.
3. Went to a Vegas event last night where beer and tequila were free. Water, on the other hand, was $10.
4. New on the list of things that are carcinogenic: neighborhood associations. Last time I checked this was America, where you can hang holiday crap in your windows and maybe build a gun turret onto your balcony.
5. Thanks to Sarah Feldberg for taking me to Border Grill. I'm naming my food baby after you.
6. Butt muscles can do miraculous things, it turns out.
7. Note to self: All-you-can-eat sushi always seems like a great idea, but the human pancreas was not designed for 10-pound rice balls.
8. You win this time, Las Vegas Strip escalator.
9. Going to a workout class tonight that includes champagne. I'm beginning to like this city.
10. Things I learned from Miss USA 2011: 1. Burning the flag is unpatriotic. 2. Ruffles are so totally back. 3. At least one educator of tomorrow is a cautionary tale about the educators of today. 4. There is a commentator more irritating than Ryan Seacrest.
11. After spending a week in the lush wilds of Montana, I discovered something very special about Las Vegas heat. Mosquitoes can't dig it.
12. Post-Absinthe (the show, not the drink) thoughts: I didn't know legs could bend like that; if you're on a high wire it helps to be skinny; I will never think of sock puppets the same way again.
13. Other people have soulful, thoughtful things to say on Facebook. I have photos of mean chicks in undies. At least they're wearing mouth guards. -Erin Ryan