it was the day of rest, i had just finished reading the bible

and then phone rang

unlisted number

familiar voice

can you come over here and pick up some suitcases and drive them out to las vegas

when?

right now.

the bible is pretty clear about not working on the sabbath, but theres great debate as to whether thats a saturday or a sunday

and even Jesus made some exceptions

i didnt consider this being tempted because technically it says to work six days and take a day off on the seventh and technically im unemployed.

how much are you paying?

a lot.

whose bags are these?

rich people’s.

i put on shorts and a cubs hat and collected the bags. there were lots of them.

they filled up my trunk, my back seat and my passengers seat.

were drugs in there? weapons? stacks of cash?

that was none of my business.

all i knew is they were paying more money than i had been paid in months and if i died or got arrested or got shot, at least id have a stupid story to tell in the world famous.

and even though it irritated me that i didnt know what i was transporting, what worried me more was i wasn’t going to arrive in sin city until 1:30am

i was worried because i get sleepy when i drive long stretches, alone, late at night.

i learned this when i drove around the country a few months into my reign at LAist.

often i would pull over after a late lunch and take a nap, but still i’d get sleepy again at 7pm and have to find lodging

there would be no stopping for this assignment.

but i did make one stop. two. one for gas and another for a Beyond Beef burger at Carls Jr and a large coke.

that burger was vegan and it was so tasty i want another one asap.

i listened to artie lang’s second book, Crash and Burn (2013) as i sped through the night, which was compelling but it’s not the type of stories that put you at ease since they’re mostly tales of him fucking up his life via drugs and drinking and lying and sleeping and being a total ass wipe to everyone around him.

but it did keep me awake.

at midnight i made it to the famous Baker thermometer where i took a great picture of a pretty girl once upon a time. back then it was broken but the other night it was working perfectly. my car was telling me it was 100 degrees out there in death valley, at midnight and the giant thermometer was more conservative: 99.

i took a pic.

then i texted the luggage owner. i said “im 90 minutes out, right on time.”

he texted back. “thats great, when you arrive i will be asleep but my daughters will be up. in one of the bags is medicine. important medicine. please text them when you get here.”

but the number was clearly international and i said, “im not sure i can call that on my phone.”

originally i was told to leave the bags with the doorman but the doorman wasn’t gonna give me any tip. and if ever a guy deserved a tip it was the one driving all night like springsteen delivering the cocaine i mean medicine

but it didnt happen.

i texted when i arrived. the guy said great, thanks.

he texted the dark colored praying hands emoji

and that was that.

no drama obama.

i deposited the cash in the atm the next day and drove home the long way, still fueled on the adrenaline of breaking all the common sense rules of accepting gigs

and being a little more desperate to say yes to anything than im comfortable with.

 

amber and i made it facebook official on our way back from vegas

 

that means shes now officially my girlfriend.

which of course is the kiss of death.

im old school. i dont believe someone is really your girlfriend unless you say so on facebook.

she said the last time we were facebook official and then i changed it when we broke up that it was one of the saddest days in her life. she said she cried and cried.

then on this trip she cried and cried too. but mostly for good reasons. mostly because lana del rey was such an emotional concert.

her music really can get you if you’re paying attention. pretty girls were laying in the aisles just weeping.

amber had her head on my shoulder crying too. it was such a beautiful, dreamy, magical show where lana seemed in slow motion the whole time like she was wooing us and hypnotizing the whole place.

at first we were in the back, fine seats, but one thing you should know about amber is she is addicted to hot tea so that also means she needs to take some pit stops. we had just taken this picture after walking around the inside of the arena to see what there was to see, and she ran to the ladies room because she had dranken like 4 cups of tea on our way to the show and as i waited i poked my head into the curtain to see where we were in relation to the stage.

and we were directly on the side of the stage and it was so much closer and alas, no one was seated in that section. so when she got out i said, lets sit here for a while and see what happens. what happened was a few people did what we did and no one was stopped from doing it because there was no usher there for some reason and we saw the whole show there and it was beautiful.

and nice. so very nice. i have had many many many lovely times in vegas.

feel free to add this one to the list.

shes a good girl, crazy about elvis

so i was all lets get lost

and as prepared as you think you might be

theres always something’s you dont account for:

the traffic on the 405 to the LBC

that your roku batteries might not be good

or that you left your lighter on the coffee table.

still

if she really is a good girl, she will be all

i have a lighter.

and finally you start to see why purses are so valuable.

amber is from the valley and one thing i will attribute to her birthplace is

it doesnt matter how your pad is laid out

or how big the suite is

she will dump her makeup on the floor (!)

sit right down on the hardwood or carpet

and go to town.

here we are on the 29th floor of a four decade old hotel and as soon as she got out of the shower, there she was bareassed on the purple carpet as if it was no biggie

maybe it is no biggie

maybe the indians would have done exactly the same thing if they were transported back in time.

maybe i am thinking like a small minded fool.

the other day we drove cheech to his home and on the way he told us about this pho restaurant at caesars thats opened late

so amber is slipping into the tightest dress ive ever seen

which means i will either look like her pimp

or her John

because all i have is some ripped jeans and a motorhead tshirt.

but at least i have a lighter.

even when we were poor we still had money to see concerts

chris joe and me at the dead in vegas

this is chris, joe and i at the Imperial Palace in Vegas, May 1992 about to see the Grateful Dead with Steve Miller opening.

the imperial palace doesnt exist any more. the dead doesnt exist any more but i still have that cubs shirt.

that concert was the first time i ever really started to understand the Dead. i had seen them once before at the Forum but passed out due to an over achieving pot cookie given to me by a beautiful stranger who only asked for a hug in return. i didnt catch her name but she had long blonde hair with flowers in it and a day glow bikini top.

because i didnt wanna pass out at the Vegas show, i only drank beers.

you cant tell from this pre party picture but later that day thunderstorms rolled in right about the time the band started playing Drums/Space

in one of the most spiritually trippy experiences ive ever had at a rock show, the thunder started jamming with the drummers and the drummers jammed right back.

in that dusty weird twilight out in the desert, i was all, oooooooooooooooooh

so this is the grateful dead!

and then two girls with see through tops kissed my cheeks.

i dont think people realize, im very shy

the night before

super true.

the blogging, the journalisming, the ubering: it’s all ways for me to help me break out of my shell because if i had my way id just move to maui, learn how to mix drinks, and just work at a hotel bar and call it a day.

why bother with all of this hoo ha?

but i know that the good lord put me in this place for a reason and it isn’t to take the easy way out and get wrinkly in a tropical paradise and marry a hula girl and be a massive sellout.

still, it’s a struggle when im at a roulette wheel sipping on my rum n coke and a pretty girl sits a few stools down from me and she smiles. is she a hooker? is she a man? does she have some terrible diseases? does she think i have a wallet full of cash?

one guy after another sits by her and loses in one way after another and finally after they leave she scootches over to me.

i like your system she says. shes been watching. of course she has. it’s so simple. bet one chip on black. if you lose, bet two on black. if you lose again bet four on black. if you lose again bet eight on black. eventually it’s gonna be black and when it does, take the winnings and bet one on black again.

the night beforemeanwhile the rum n cokes keep coming and either the frat boys win big and leave with the girl or they lose and try to woo her anyways but, come on. yr a loser. and just look at her.

she starts betting along with me. one on black. two on black. four on black, drink.

she asks me where im from. i tip my cubs hat. she looks confused. i say the c is for canada.

i think shes from japan, but her english is better than mine. id ask her, but im very shy and i dont wanna be racist. she has sparkly jewelry. i expect her big strong husband to arrive any minute but no one ever comes.

she says, wanna get out of here?

i say, whats better than this? free drinks, we’ve hit black like five times in a row, and theres a pretty girl who keeps bumping her knee against mine.

she apologizes. more drinks come. i tip the waitress for both of ours. she was doing wine, now shes on to cosmos. if i wanted to get drunk id have ordered some shots for us but im still not entirely sure shes not a man.

after a while she says, if you could do anything right now, what would it be?

i say, what, it’s like 7pm? vegas. prettiest girl in this whole casino? tony pierce, fresh from canada with like 5-6 drinks in him? well, id see the new seth rogen movie.

she says what movie is that?

i say, “the night before.”

she says the night before what?

i say, i think its the night before Christmas. i think it’s a Christmas movie for adults.

and she says, id love to see a Christmas movie for adults.

and she did for about a half hour, and then she fell asleep on my shoulder.

was probably a man.

my mom and i got 15,000 steps in yesterday

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as you know, las vegas has always had, and will always have a very special place in my heart.

ive been visiting here for years and years starting before i was even born.

while in college i drove out here several times to experience Comdex back when personal computers were relatively new

(god im old)

and so as to see the Grateful Dead play with Steve Miller in one of the most spiritual concerts i’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing (and i wasnt even on any psychedelics).

over the years ive been back for a variety of reasons including jobs, girlfriends, hospital music,  the xbi and reckless abandon.

ive nearly died here at least once, and along the way ive had many many many memorable trips.

i am here this time because my mom decided to have a family thanksgiving here, as she has never visited Sin City

britney store

so we went on a walkabout.

first we headed to Planet Hollywood because i figured it was your typical Vegas strip hotel and casino.

we walked through it real quick and then i told her about the strange shopping culture on the strip

how every huge casino also has a giant shopping center wrapped around it with food and stores and bars and stores and shops and boutiques and stores and stores and stores.

i told her that secretly the strip is the worlds largest mall which is why they let you drink freely

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next door was Paris, one of my favorites, where, if you recall, ashley and i chilled some 14(!) years ago. i showed my mom the pastries and she said they often look better than they taste and i was all, well we should see if thats true. but we didnt. we had lunch plans.

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we walked past the street performers and mom wasn’t at all pleased with the fake playboy bunnies and other scantily dressed women and i was all, everyone needs to get paid.

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we took a free shuttle from Ballys to the Rio for the seafood buffet but it was too early for that so we took a Lyft to the Wynn and my mom loved that even more than Paris. she was blown away.

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when she looked up she was all, hey it’s Colbert’s ceiling!

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for some reason i didn’t know that there was a Jeff Koons just laying in the hall. but lo!

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we stood in line for a minute at the Wynn buffet but the line didnt move and the lady told us it would be about a half hour before we were seated. theres two places i dont stand in line at: sxsw to see bands and vegas to eat. so we were headed out to catch another lyft to go back to paris when i saw this married couple at this asian restaurant at Encore.

my mom loves chinese food and even though i knew it was gonna cost some good money i asked her if she wanted to try out some Ramen. she had never had ramen served right so she said oui. i got the bigass bowl of pork ramen and mom got a nice plate of salt and pepper shrimp and we shared and she loved it.

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the wynn/encore was all the glitz i think she was looking for in vegas. although she kept saying that it was nothing like what she was expecting, but i think thats cuz television and movies are full of terrible lies, unlike the world famous busblog where everything is true.

mom at caesars

so i was all, ok we’ve seen the malls at planet hollywood, paris, ballys, the rio (where i won some money from the robot lady blackjack table) and the wynn/encore, lets go see the mall at caesars the place that started it all.

she was super amazed. she loved the “sky”, the street, and the fact that all of the luxury brands that she had read about were right there, next to each other: Louis V, Tiffany, Chanel, and on and on and on

daquris

another thing mom wasnt crazy about was all the daiquiri and margarita stands. or the fact that i had a beer in my hand the whole time. one after another. i was all, ma, las vegas is a celebration of freedom. you GET to gamble here, you GET to shoot machine guns in the desert, you GET to walk around a 10 mile long mall with a Miller Genuine Draft in your hand that you tipped the waitress $2 while you were at the tables. and if you are lonely, you GET to have a former stripper come to your room and make sex with you. the daiquiris are sweet symbolism of that freedom. if America was truly free, none of this would exist here because it would be commonplace. so we drink to forget that our real towns are horrible shells of what the founders intended. so drink up.

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when we got home we got stared down by Babe who was ticked that we didnt get her a Shirley Temple.

just like in the xbi, there arent a lot of commercial black pilots

babe the pilot

so when my family flew from chicago to vegas yesterday and they saw a black pilot they were all

do you know tony pierce?

brotha said who? they said xbi. chopper one?

homie said, busblog?

and, to quote donald trump, bing bang bong, our little angel babe was the new co-pilot

and everyone got free popcorn.

babe loves popcorn.

so yeah, now we’re all out here in sin city, which is an interesting place for little kids to be

there was once a time when vegas catered to kids, but im pretty sure that time is gone, thankfully.

but i do know that its still the time for adults, so im gonna be a terrible uncle and stay drunk all day

and then eat all night and get drunker. that way they know that booze is bad and they should stay away from it.

life lessons from drunk uncle.