Las Vegas, April 2019, Part FourB by @MJames1229


It’s Part Two of Day Four of @MJames1229‘s April 2019 Las Vegas trip. The long day continues with Michael Jackson, the Vegas show you have to see, and more bowling.

A Long Day Continues 

After a quick stop at the California to check in, change clothes and put the leftovers in the fridge, it was off to Stop #5A and 5B.

Stop #5A was to drop Melissa off at The Strat for MJ Live. She had a ticket for this two years ago, but that show was cancelled at the last minute. When she bought the ticket this time, she had a little extra money so she upgraded really well.

My Wife Could Practically Touch Michael Jackson(ish) 

He doesn’t look very much like Michael Jackson, but according to the video that she took, he can really dance. Doesn’t sing too poorly, either.

MJ vs The Essence 

While she was doing that, I was asked to find a dispensary. Apparently, we were going to our show under the aid of some, um, dispensed product. Therefore Stop #5B was at the Essence, which was across the street from The STRAT .

The experience matched what I had heard. You pass a bouncer into this cold, impersonal area leading to a window, not unlike a Western Union branch in a dicey neighborhood. They ran all three drivers licenses, then buzzed us through a heavy door that closed behind us which made a sound like a title card from Law and Order. Once inside the store, we were about sixth in line. I have never smoked anything, so obviously I would get some sort of edible. Also not knowing anything about the pot, I was going to ask the dispenser which would be the best product or strain for an evening of entertainment.

As I am working this out in my head, I hear “$26 for a brownie plus 22% tax? I don’t need to get high that bad”. I, like a good father, feigned “Are you sure? You were looking forward to it”. He said that he was sure, so we walked out the exit door, which unceremoniously dumped us in a back alley. And this concludes the story of my first time in a Nevada dispensary.

The Evening Continues 

You might have thought “Wow, Mr, mjames1229. You’ve had quite the busy day and you’re quite old. Isn’t it time to rest?

“Pshaw”. I respond. There is Stop #6 to get to.

Gonna Play Some Poker 

I drop the kiddos off at the Park MGM so they can pack (they have an early flight) before they meet me for the show, and I park at Caesars valet. At this point it is about 7:00 PM, and our show is at 10:00. For years (and years, and years) I’ve come to Vegas on poker trips for tournaments, and when people tell me to play cash games, I usually decline because I’ve either just been knocked out of a tournament and am too frustrated to jump right back into a game, or else we are at a locals place and real poker players are there.

Other times, I am with my wife and can’t set aside 3-4 hours of her vacation to play cards. But today, I’ve got three hours to kill and I am all by myself. I size-up the poker options, and figure that the Flamingo would have the easiest game (tourists, you know) so I walk over there.

Or Not 

I get there, check in, and I am about 10th on the list for 1/2 No Limit, so thinking that they may open a new table soon, I dump $100 in a nearby slot machine close enough to hear my name. After that (first) hundo is gone, I go back to see my name still 7th. I ask if they are thinking of opening another table, and the attendant says “If another dealer shows up”. Hmmm….

Another lost Benjamin in another slot machine later, I am still 7th in line. Getting frustrated at myself (and at the happenstance of a good idea gone wrong), I dedicate myself to chasing those first two bills with two more. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful. Finally, only two short hours and $500 later, I schlump out of the Flamingo with my name still 4th on the list. However, I have a friend to meet and a show to get to… otherwise there might have been more chasing.

The Walk to Caesars Palace 

I meet up with bowling teammate Glenn and we head back to Caesars, but as we walk out the front entrance of the Flamingo, we run into a half dozen (very drunk) members of our original bowling group. With the typical, slurry “Heeeyyyy, guyyyyssth… Whatryouuuuu doin tnite?” we soberly answer as best we can. These two showgirl buskers hear the commotion and make a bee-line to this impromptu assemblage. (At this point, I need to take an aside to mention how I am one of those that absolutely despises buskers, and that I have given my ideas on how to eliminate them, and nobody listens. But when I encounter one, I don’t make eye contact and keep walking. Now, back to my story).

Somehow, one of the tipsy fellows mentions that I am from Manchester, England and that this is my first time in America. I come up with some asinine accent, and before I realize what is going on…

Egads… I am part of the problem now. But the tip isn’t coming out of my pocket (though someone paid the black one $20, which is about $25 too much, but I digress…) and at least I have a photo of that time the British mjames1229 didn’t look at an ass that was three feet from my face.

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder 

There is only one show at Caesars Palace that a couple of old men and a couple of kids who want to get high would all want to see… Absinthe. Believe it or not, in 25 previous trips, this was my first time.

I was told that the way the tent is set-up, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. That may be true, but I didn’t want the cheapest seats all the way back by the sound booth, and I didn’t want to get picked on for being right up close, so we “settled” for the fifth row.

Waiting at the Valet for My Car 

By the time the show was over and we left the tent, it was around Midnight. I bid adieu to Aaron and Stephanie, who walked back to Park MGM and were leaving the next morning, and also to Glenn who was walking back to Planet Hollywood, where he had moved after a few days at South Point. While waiting at the valet for my car, I opened Facebook and saw that a group of friends who were not part of our 10-team group, but who were all from Milwaukee were at the Stage Door.

“Wait”, again, says you. “You haven’t gotten any younger. Shouldn’t you wind the evening down? Wasn’t your night supposed to end with Absinthe?”

“Pish-tosh. This is Vegas.”

Hangin’ With a Different Group of Friends 

I headed over to the Stage Door (another place I’ve heard about over and over, but had never visited) to meet up with this group. Now in fairness, most of them bowl with me in my Monday league, but I’ve never really been part of their inner circle, so I wasn’t sure how this would go.

Turns out, I was 6 hours late to their party. Again, I was way to sober for the group of people I encountered. They tried to solve that, though, with a Green Tea, which is basically peach schnapps and Jameson…

Which the bartendress was making in bulk.

From left, Van, Chris (seated), Dean and Bryan. Van is a local Milwaukee celebrity as he’s a DJ and does morning spots on the Saturday local news.

I don’t know the kissing couple or the guy in the grey T-shirt, but the rest (from left) are Dan, Nick, Nick’s wife, April and Chris again.

That’s Adam. I knew him when he was a teenager. Boy’s grown up…

Besides the group being hammered and downing Green Tea like its, well, green tea, they are eating hot dogs at a rapid clip… one guy had said that he had had six of them.

Bryan (or maybe it was Nick) bought one for me. It was pretty good. Not necessarily six-in-a-night good, but then again, I hadn’t been there for six hours.

The James Taxi Rolls On 

After about an hour, one Green Tea and a Miller Lite (driving, remember) the group was starting to slow down, so I started to make my exit strategy, saying that my hotel near Fremont St was a bit of a drive. And before I knew it, the James Taxi was transporting Van, Chris, Nick and April downtown.

I made the lady ride shotgun, and for that act of chivalry, I got a long (and repeated at least three times) story on how I looked like her Uncle Rick who now lives in Texas, but he and her dad used to own a bowling pro shop in Omaha, and that I looked like her Uncle Rick in Texas. April was certainly nice enough, but it was like she was hitting on me, except with this weird Uncle Fantasy and with her husband in the back seat. Oh, to be a drunk…

Drunks (Except Me) Taking on Fremont St 

Once we got to Fremont (close to 2:00 AM) they were disappointed to see that “Fremont St” was closed for the night and was just filled with other random drunks doing random things randomly. I told them that if they wanted to continue the party, the bars are towards Fremont East so we headed that way (stopping at The D for a bathroom break). While they were in the bathroom, I hit a Buffalo for a $40 profit, and when they found me, they each had drinks in their hands. But did they think of grabbing one for their old, sober taxi driver? Sigh, no.

Van, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nick and April.

Hitting the Lanes at 2:00 AM? 

We walked to the El Cortez and back and had gotten to Neonopolis when I said something like “we’ve almost run out of bars” when Van saw a neon light that said Open Bowling. I thought to myself “Oh-oh, this can’t be good”.

Turns out that the old Drink and Drag was now The Nerd. And The Nerd is now a seedy, disgusting shell of a corner bar. The cover charge (at 2:00 AM with about five people in the place) was one drink for men, and none for women, which was odd as this was certainly nothing close to a pick-up joint.

In the photos of Drink and Drag, they had the bowling lanes looking like this…

All shiny and new and stuff.

But what we found was this…

There were only two lanes actually operating. There was a group using one of the two. The rest had become repositories for junk. As a bowler, it was heartbreaking. The scoring units had been removed, too.

Bowling, Yes.  But With Gambling! 

When I went to the bar for a beer, Van walked to the other operating lane, picked up a random ball off of the rack and rolled it. Then he did it again. I told the bartender that he might want to turn the lane off if he didn’t want drunks bowling. He said that bowling was free with the purchase of a drink.

Well, that changed everything.

There were two problems. One, the ball return was jammed with two balls, so when someone rolled a ball, it billiarded one of the stuck balls out, so that there were always two stuck (and grinding that rubber belt something fierce). The other problem is that there hadn’t been any oil put on the lanes since it had been Drink and Drag. Now everyone (except me) was plastered, and none of us had bowling shoes, and we were using any random ball we could find, but did that stop us?

Nope. Bowlers at heart.

We each threw a buck into the pot. First mark (either a strike or a spare) would win. Those balls and lanes were so abused that 30 minutes later, we were still competing for that pot. Finally Van broke through with a strike and won the pot. “One more time!” said all, as we all put another buck up.

Van bowled first. Bowled a strike, then took the money and walked out. He must be the best bowler of all.

Scoping Out The Nerd 

I think The Nerd is supposed to be a place that caters to, well, nerds, as it has displays of stuff that only a nerd would love.

But mostly it was a run down, dark, disgusting dive that I am very comfortable in saying that I’m fine never returning to.

Winding Down 

That was about it for our group, and as we headed back to the California (where I parked my car for the night) while continually stating “I am not driving you guys back to South Point”. While back under the canopy, Van spotted a pigeon walking. He said that if he touches it, everyone owes him another dollar.

He crouched down, did a duck-walk, and almost got to the pigeon as it scooted away. Undaunted, Van continued, once again getting oh-so-close. Finally, Van looked like he was ready to pounce when the bird said “fuck this” and flew away.

We tried to get that dollar each from Van, but apparently it was a one-way bet.

Early morning came and morning followed, the fourth day.

Thanks for reading Part FourB! Click here for Part Five where @MJames1229 gets screwed by Wayne Newton and his fragile body.

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