i don’t know why i have such a block about writing about things we’ve done lately – i have a queue of events that have not been written up yet, from burning man to the MMW show last month – but it just seems so hard to put my life into words these days. it also takes a lot of concentration and memory to write these autobiographical posts (as opposed to offhand commentary about a link/some cultural event/thing written somewhere else), and sometimes i just don’t have it in me. this, however, is fresh and so i’m just going to bite the bullet and do it now. plus, inquiring minds want to know.
we left for vegas on friday at 6:30pm and arrived in the MGM hotel around 9:00. as there were 5 of us (me, jay, ben, whit, nicole), we booked a 2 room suite. one of the odd things about vegas is that even when you get a suite, you don’t have things like a coffee maker or the standard amenities you would have in any motel 6 in the room. they want you to have the leave the room for everything.
friday night is hard when you’ve worked all week and then traveled to get to your location. we considered trying to find a place to go dancing, but for us jaded ex-raver/club kids/DJs who’ve been to vegas several (if not dozens) of times (this is us in vegas in 1998!), the prospect of paying $150 for the 5 of us to get into some tourist club full of amateurs and 22-year-old OC-types with horrible house music was just not appealing. so we wandered around and just hit the in-casino bars at the hotels within walking distance, including an irish bar where we settled into some guinness and a live band. we were able to amuse ourselves until 3 or 4 am, so it’s not like we crashed, but when nicole’s sister texted to ask what we did, the response was something to the effect of “you’re in vegas: step it up or go home.”
we all slept in the next day and then headed out to find brunch. we settled on a place we should not have settled on because of proximity, and ended up waiting forever for cold and tasteless omelettes. then we went to see the lions, and after that headed back to the room to rest a bit and get ready for dinner and the NIN show.
planet hollywood said that the doors for the show were at 6:30 and the show as at 8:00. no opener was listed, and every other show i’ve been to vegas has started approximately on time, so an early dinner was needed. whit had heard from someone that “the best thai restaurant on the west coast” was in vegas and got us a 6:00 dinner reservation so that we could get back to the show by 7:30ish. they asked us to “please not be late”, but after fucking around for a little too long and then rushing to get ready, we headed downstairs at 5:50 to find a long taxi line, so we hopped in a limo. i mean, we were all dressed up and heading to “the single best Thai restaurant in north america“, so a limo seemed appropriate. until it pulled up to the location: a strip mall on the outskirts of town, and an unimpressive storefront. suddenly pulling up in a limo seemed really funny.
we walked into the restaurant, and it was just your standard thai restaurant. not fancy. no bar. no music. not crowded. no wait. the other patrons were suburban families. we were way out of place. it was sort a relief, actually, since we only had an hour to eat before the show, which would be a challenge in a fancier restaurant. despite its strip-mall aesthetic, the food WAS really good (and very welcome considering most of the food on the strip is horrid and/or super overpriced), although i’m not sure it’s the best thai food in north america. but for the 5 of us and 2 bottles of good Riesling, we ate like kings for a fraction of what you’d pay in the “asian fusion” restuarants on the strip, and that was just what we needed.
we hopped back in a taxi and it was off to the show. we arrived at the venue to find a long line of gothy mohawked NIN fans snaking around the casino/mall, but were inside by 7:45. our seats were in the LAST ROW on the floor. sigh. however, it was relatively empty, and so we plotted to sneak down to get closer once the show started. and then we waited. FOREVER. the venue slowly filled up (everyone else seemed to know that the 8:00 was not the start time), and there was in fact an opening act: The Bug, a dubstep/dancehall DJ+MC duo that did little to wake us up or move the crowd. and then we waited some more. NIN finally took the stage around 9:30, and by then i was literally half asleep in my chair and admittedly feeling a bit half-hearted about the rest of the show. “this better wake me up”, i said.
and it did. despite us being in the back row and the sound being not as awesome as it should have been, NIN were AMAZING and rocked the shit out of that place. this was the last stop on the tour, and so i think they were really giving it their all. they played old favorites, new songs, acoustic, a percussion interlude, and yes, the light show was really quite incredible. LED screens layered over the stage created scenes within scenes, some of which were beautiful and romantic, others stark and minimalist, others interactive. it’s impossible for me to explain what was going on there in words, so i wont’ even try, but you can read the Wired article about it if you haven’t already. i really fucking wish we had been closer.
anyway, it rocked, and the show ended sometime around midnight, and after a moment of reprise we prepared ourselves and started off on the rest of the evening’s adventure. walking through yet another mall, we were propositioned by a young woman working the water massage stations. these things look like tanning beds, but when you get inside them (fully clothed), you are then pummeled with high-pressure water with a layer of thick plastic keeping you dry. we were dismissive at first, but whit wanted to try and convinced us to u-turn and come back. thinking about how sore my legs were from walking around all day and then standing and dancing at the NIN show, i succumbed. the water is warm and the pressure is hard but not too hard, it moves back and forth up and down your body, but you have a button that lets you control where it stops if you want it to focus on a certain area longer. i have to say: those were some of the best 7 minutes i spent in vegas, and my legs muscles felt great and i was pretty well rejuvenated by the time i got out and ready to roll.
so, we hopped on the monorail (which no one else seems to ride at all) and headed to the stratosphere on the far (sketchy!) end of the strip, but it closed before we could go to the top. on the way back we stopped at a total townie dive-bar with mirrored ceilings, where ben was lovingly propositioned by a much older woman (“my, aren’t you cute,” she said, pulling his hair back from his face, “mmmhmm……if i was 25 years younger…”), determined that all 5 of us were getting married to eachother at the “world famous chapel of the bells” (if you have a problem with our 5-way marriage, write your senator!) (not nearly as fun as our burning man wedding though, reagan), i almost convinced nicole to get a tattoo, and then we headed back toward the other end of the strip, via monorail and much meandering.
for the sake of some of our careers, i’ll just be a little vague here and say that the rest of the evening was spent riding the monorail and what seemed like thousands of escalators, window-shopping in the endless indoor malls, investigating ceilings and carpets and art and tiles and mirrors and tapestries and window dressings and all the other beautiful decor in these hotels. honestly, the interior decorating in these places is super exceptional and a total dream. it was also FREEZING COLD outside, so we sort of felt trapped indoors. unlike other trips to vegas where we’ve spent the majority of time outside enjoying the warm desert nights wandering up and down the strip looking at the pretty lights and fountains, there was much more attention paid to interiors this time. it might have seemed odd to find the 5 of us wandering a desolated back hallway of the Wynn hotel at 5am, inspecting paintings, chandeliers and intricate wallhangings instead of dancing sweatily inside some trendy discothèquebut really: it was quite nice.
let me back up for a minute and note that, due to this being our pilgrimage to see NINE INCH NAILS, we had decided before departure that the stated theme for the weekend was “rockstar”, and thus, it was determined early on that were were, in fact, in a band. the band’s name is Tapestry. our status as a band (and the 5-way marriage) was referenced numerous times in various contexts, and if anyone asked who we were/what we were doing, that was to be the response. the curious thing about this is that over the course of our trip, a number of people ASKED US if we were in a band. i assume that this was due to our rockstar energy and possibly the copious amounts of cleavage, guyliner and whit’s leather pants, but still. manifestation=eerie.
vegas is always a fascinating (horrifying?) petri dish of american culture to begin with, with so many different subcultures mingling- the retirees, the glams, the midwestern tourists with fanny packs, the NASCAR fans – all with more or less the same hedonistic goal being implemented in slightly different ways (cross-references to burning man will be excluded for the time being). in the past we’ve been there as just regular tourists as well as part of the phish community, which was interesting, putting 30,000 patchworked, dreadlocked hippies in the mix and seeing the stares as you walk by covered in glitter and glowsticks. i’m sure the people who work the hotels see various groups come and go all year round and have their own stories about odd groups of people coming through for conventions and trade shows. for us this time, not only was the outrageous Christmas decor through the hotels something new, it was also the WORLD FINALS of RODEO, and Vegas had gone COUNTRY. many of the clubs were only playing country music, and everywhere we went, cowboys and cowgirls in tight jeans, cowboy boots, western shirts and 10-gallon hats were roaming about. Whit enjoyed an especially frightening moment when he was overtaken by some incredibly drunk middle-aged cowgirls (cowwomen?) who were REALLY EXCITED about his leather and brocade chap-style pants.
after many long hours of casino wandering and a pre-dawn bottle of champagne or so, the sun came up and it was warmer and sunny outside, and so it was determined that we needed to go back up to the room to collect our rockstar sunglasses and then head out into the morning, with a drink to go. we ended up at the Liquidity bar at the Luxor, where we proceeded to have continue with our liquid breakfast. i took the pleasure of ordering everyone drinks off the special menu: a Love Potion for myself (Stolichnaya Elit Vodka, Strawberry Purée, Juice of a Lemon with Zardetto Prosecco), a Liquid Lust for nicole (Van Gogh Pineapple Vodka, SoBe Adrenaline Rush with Grenadine), a Liquid Indulgence for ben (Russell Reserve Bourbon, Signature Barbecue Mary Mix with the Juice of a Lemon, minus the BBQ sauce), a Jaded Mojito for jay (Montecristo White Rum infused with Mint and Lime, topped with Ginger Ale), and finally, a REPENT (Bacardi 151 Rum, Peach Schnapps and Cranberry Juice) for whit, who had earlier insisted that Tapestry was a Christian Rock band.
after a couple of rounds of that and some more drinks ordered to go, we went back outside and it was then obviously time for a band photoshoot. i think this one perhaps captures it best, although this one was taken by a security guard who told us we weren’t supposed to be doing that.
after the photoshoot, we made our way back to the MGM where whit became enamored with these glass crystal things where they take your photos and etch a 3D image into a block. everyone but whit resisted this idea, but his insistence was unwavering and so we agreed to take part in this tourist trap. this required us to gather ourselves up and have somewhat decent photos taken, which was no small feat considering 1) it was like Noon and we’d been up all night and 2) we had just consumed a large quantity of alcohol on empty stomachs. it took what felt like forever but eventually the mission was completed and whit arranged to have the object shipped to him in san francisco. i believe it arrived yesterday and it will be unveiled this evening at dinner. i’m sort of afraid to see it.
then, brunch was considered, but some of us (um, mostly me) were reaching a point of exhaustion and insobriety for which sitting at a table and eating wasn’t going to be possible. back to the room we went, and we took a much needed crashnap for a couple of hours before getting up and heading back to the airport for the flight home. i hope we made nicole’s sister proud.
the surreality followed us on the plane, though, and while we were boarding, the guy sitting in the row in front of me started harassing the flight attendants and talking incessantly to everyone around him, trying to get someone to respond. “hey yo baby, what’s up.” “hey how you doin’.” “wow is that your friend’s jacket?” “hey man what’s going on”. the flight attendants were obviously annoyed and so was everyone else with this wasted dude, but it think it was when he said “oh man if i get the shakes i’m going to freak out. you don’t want me to freak out, man” within earshot of the flight attendant that they decided maybe he shouldn’t be on a plane right now. and so after everyone else had sat down, a security dude walked down the aisle and told the guy he needed to get off. at this point you either sober up really fast and make amends for being an asshat and promise to sit quietly for the rest of the flight, or you freak out, and i was holding my breath waiting for the dude to flip out. he sort of did both, looking really confused for a minute in his seat, then standing up and stating to everyone on the plane “so i’m annoying huh? i’m an annoying guy on the plane. whoopdeedoo. i just had a few drinks man. you’re really going to make me get off the plane?” while the guy made an ass of himself, the security and flight attendants stayed far away from him but kept summoning him to the front. no one touched him, which i think was a good call. eventually he got his bag and exited the plane, and people cheered.
back at the parking lot outside the oakland airport, as the guy was getting our bags out of the back of the shuttle van next to our car, he asked “hey, are you guys in a band?”Filed in autobiographical, events, friends, travel | Tagged with NIN, tapestry, vegas | Comments (6)