Here's a quick summary and highlights of my nine-hour adventure in Las Vegas for Podcast-a-Palooza.
I still hadn't recovered from my trip just two weeks prior, but there was absolutely no way I was going to miss Podcast-a-Palooza. If I wasn't already great friends with everyone involved in the project, those of you I didn't know personally I had wanted to meet for quite some time. August 16th was a day not to be missed and I rearranged my work schedule so I could at least be in Vegas for the day.
No time for breakfast at home so I had the breakfast of champions on the plane: a screwdriver. Considering that I'm skinny as a toothpick, this already did me in. I hadn't even landed in Vegas and I was quite inebriated. The cab line moved quickly and I might as well have gotten tunneled because the fare to Wynn was something like $24. I head to the concierge desk to say hi to my buddy Jake before making my rounds around the resort.
Wynn just feels good. I know I've said this millions of times, but it really hit me on this brief walk-through. Having decided two weeks ago that Palms Place would be my home until I see what Encore brings to the table, my tour of Wynn was like a phone call from an ex girlfriend after a recent break up. (Yes, my love for this town and its casinos gets that emotional.) It's the general mood of Wynn's employees, the smiles on the guest's faces, the way it feels just as lively during the day as it does in the evening.
Near the theaters, you can get a sneak peak of what Encore will look like. I'm still undecided on whether or not I like it since it's difficult to judge an entire casino on 100 feet of hallway, but its ultra colorful light fixtures against off-white and sparse ceilings is a departure from typical Steve Wynn ornate--it almost looks unfinished.
I text Hunter to see where he's at and he tells me to stop by The Mirage for a drink. Hunter is the only person that knows I'm in town for Podcast-a-Palooza; I wanted to surprise everyone else, especially Tim and Michele of Five Hundy as I hadn't seen them since November of '06. Before heading to Mirage though, I try to check out Encore's progress, but a construction worker informs me that the sidewalk is closed and I can't go any further. I decide to grill him with questions in hopes of maybe getting a confirmed opening date or any inside tidbits, but he gives me generic responses like a programmed droid. Clearly, these guys are sworn to secrecy.
I meet Hunter and his wife Megan at Revolution for a few drinks before they head up to change for lunch and the Podcast-a-Palooza. Hunter comes down before Megan and finds me sitting literally inside the last giant "O" in Revolution's larger-than-life sign. I stand up when I see him and as we're talking inches from the giant "O", some guy randomly walks up behind me and starts feeling the cushion inside it. Awkward. Hunter responds in a stern voice, "Yes, it's a cushion." Then the guy starts tugging on it and Hunter says, "No, you can't take it home." It might have been one of those "you had to be there" moments, but I was just cracking up.
Megan makes her way down and as we load up in a cab, I get a text from my friend Sandra. It's titled "Your Courtesy Vegas Fix" with a picture of Encore. I reply, "Are you in Vegas?" and she says, "Yeah, at The Mirage now!" just as our cab is pulling away from Mirage's porte cochere. Crazy coincidence. I let her know that I'll be at Palms until 7pm and that it would be awesome to see her.
The cab pulls up to Palms Place where we make our way to Simon Restaurant and Lounge. This place is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Veronica wasn't working the bar much to my dismay so we sit at a table and enjoy an excellent lunch. I had the fish tacos this time around--absolutely fantastic.
After lunch, it was time to head to The Lounge inside Palms for Podcast-a-Palooza. As I walk in, Michele spots me and is in total shock. It was during our long hug that I realize coming out for the day was totally worth it. Tim was speechless as well. You guys really know how to make a guy feel welcome.
The event itself was a blast. More drinks were had and many jokes shared. Carrot Top and George Maloof both seemed extremely down to earth and personable. I won't go into too much detail as I'm sure you'll here about it in the various podcasts and updates, but needless to say, I hope that we as part of the Vegas Internet community have many more of these events to come.
Somewhere in the middle of the show, Sandra walks in and we chat for a brief moment before she has to leave. I wish I had known she would be in town sooner, but at least I got to see her if only for a few minutes.
I was incredibly honored to be the guy that runs around with a microphone taking audience questions at the end of the show. While I know that sounds sarcastic, I truly mean it. I'm glad I could help out in some way.
After the show, I got to meet Dr. Dave Schwartz and got my copy of Roll the Bones signed. He's incredibly modest and way cool--the complete antithesis of the tweed-coat-with-leather-elbow-patches college professor type. I also had the pleasure of meeting Chuckmonster and enjoyed our brief discussion on latter 20th-century classical music. I've said it before and I'll say it again: he is a true Renaissance man. Last among the meet highlights was Miles of The Strip podcast. I found him just as hilarious in person as he is on the air.
We had our final drinks and wrapped it up. I was tempted to canceling all my plans, throwing my flight back at whatever the cost, and just finding a room somewhere for the night just to keep the good times lasting, but it was impossible with my work schedule and grad school starting up again in a few days. I said my good byes and headed out to the airport which was like a ghost town on Saturday night.
The flight home was uneventful though there was one major highlight: one of the last people to board was a soldier in full military regalia and he whispered something into the flight attendant's ear before heading to the back of the plane. He looked worried and on the edge, but the flight attendant just smiled and whispered something back. As we landed and began taxiing on the runway, the flight attendant said, "Ladies and gentleman, tonight we have a veteran with us who has just returned from Iraq and his wife is due to have a baby in about two hours. He's sitting in the back of the plane and is in a rush so let's let him get his luggage first and run out before all of us so he can make it to the hospital in time." When the plane came to a complete stop, the vet grabbed his luggage and the entire plane was cheering, thanking him for his service, and congratulating him as he ran down the aisle and out the door. We'd have given him a standing ovation if there were enough headroom. Major kudos to the crew at Southwest for arranging that.
I walked back to my car shaking my head in disbelief. Just this morning I left for Vegas and now I'm already back home. I get inside the house, kick off my shoes, forgo setting an alarm, brushing my teeth, or even taking out my contacts and just pass out. Days that incredible need a week's worth of recovery.