Double dose of Vegas — Part II

So where was I? Oh yes. The Palazzo opening was nice if you like that sort of thing, but in terms of color and noise and surprises and yummy-looking people drinking in the daytime, I found a far superior scene in the most unlikely of places. And that would be the Mandalay Convention Center.

 Every other time I’ve been there (more than I care to admit), it’s been full of people in suits, shiny shoes and attitude–the sort that goes “yes, my company pays me to come to Vegas, so this must mean I am important in some way, but gosh I sure don’t feel it after lugging my laptop case 10 kilometers down this random fluorescent-lit hallway.”

And there was some of that this time. There was a furniture convention going on (I heard they were very cheap tippers), and a TV conference (which sounds like it would have been fun but actually was not). Then, on the bottom floor of the convention center, there was a straight-up carnival.


Okay, no it wasn’t. It was the annual snow sports convention, which as far as I could tell was primarily comprised of snowboarders, skiiers and the people who love them. There may have been a few lonely snowman-builders lost in the mix somewhere, but I couldn’t find them in between all the kegs and half-pipes and grommety-looking boys running around causing havoc.

Alls I really have to say after crashing discovering this convention is that I probably should go live on a mountain somewhere b/c I’ve clearly been in the wrong business all these years. Poker? Nightclubs? Tropical islands? Pshaw! It’s all a big yawn compared to what I saw in the convention center at 3PM on a Tuesday afternoon.


 There must have been 15 separate DJ turntables set up, playing hip-hop and rock and broken-beat electronica. At least four parties going, including one that was Mexican-themed and one in this strange indoor yurt made out of recycled blocks. Then there was the Guitar Hero booth–probably my favorite, thanks to the beanbags and flat-screen TVs.


The thing I really noticed, though, was the crowd. What an unexpected mix! In the atrium booths and the organizer area, they were older people–all natural and healthy looking in the way that only comes from not eating meat for at least two decades. The ski equipment and mountaineering booths were full of rugged-looking dudes who look like they probably almost (or did) make the Olympic team in their youth, and now hang permanently in places like Park City being “private instructors” to a parade of willing older women.

Snowboard territory was like a pick-a-mix of the finest and the scariest-looking folks I’d seen in weeks–and honestly you just did not know what you were going to get. You’d turn a corner, and there would be a bunch of boys and girls who looked like they stepped out of a sunglass ad. Then right across from them would be a pack of disgustingly filthy hairy teenagers comparing butt-cracks. Random. But entertaining.


The Volcom booth. Bunny rabbits, fuschia lizards, fake dreads. Irresistible, in a sick way. Or sick in an irresistible way. (Take your pick.)

Probably my favorite was the Oakley crew. I was lost, spaced out and staring, and I just backed right into one of them. He very nicely asked if I needed help, and I answered the first thing that came to mind: ‘Yes, in an existential sense.’ (That’s always the truth at the tail end of a Vegas trip.)

Then I sat and chatted with them for a few minutes, and then I realized that they were all very cute, and that one of them was indeed rather fine in a tattooed Chris Cornell-reminiscent way that your parents would not approve of. So naturally I asked to take their picture. At which point they all got shy and tried to run away. I rallied them (like herding cats) and then tried to get my phone-cam skills going, even though was sheerly caffeine-powered by then and therefore very shaky.

In the middle of it the first one asked, “What’s this for?” and I, like the compulsive storyteller I am, said, “For a porn site.”

Oops. Away they went again.

I’m KIDDING!” I said. Jeez. You Oakley kids are camera-shy. But charming! I would have liked to stay and have a few beers. But I motivated onward.

And here I am, back home again for 2.2 seconds. Catching a plane to NYC this afternoon. Sleep? Never heard of it. Sleep is for sissies.

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February 2008

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