In September , Amy and I spent two days in Vegas and two days in Salt Lake City. The trip was prompted by my brother's wedding in SLC. Until the wedding, I would estimate that I've spent a sum total of ten hours with my brother in the same number of years, so his upcoming nuptials were a good opportunity to catch up.
But rather than spend four days in Utah which would, no doubt, prove to be mind-numbing--long lost brother or not--we decided to split our big vacation into two stops: Las Vegas for two days; SLC for two days.
These are the highlights of that trip.
First Stop: Las Vegas
To add to my small collection of interesting bottle openers (8 or 9 total), I picked up these two pieces of tourist tin. The topmost one, bought for $2.99 at the Las Vegas Travelodge convenience store, doesn't work for shit--the opening isn't sized properly. Its companion, however, an apparent rip-off at $4.99, does the job with aplomb and was, therefore, well worth the extra two bills. The Vegas opener sits in a drawer. The piece from Hoover Dam will remain on my desk until it is replaced by something more fancy.
While strolling past the MGM, we spied the marquee as it flashed an ad for a cooking demonstration and book signing by Emeril Lagasse, the king of the TV Food Network. Admittedly, we hate seafood. But Emeril sure is fun to watch. Hmm? What was that? Watching the TV Food Network makes us seem like middle-aged, homebodies? Guilty as charged, then.
Well, we went to the demonstration and the signing. Sure it's a goofy thing to do, but fuck, it was our vacation, so keep your traps shut. We wanted to live a little, ok? (The photo at right catches a frisky Emeril trying for a little starfuck action with Amy from Crank. Honest. You should've seen where that right hand was heading before I cracked him one across the face.)
Your editor poses with the latest casino monstrosity: New York, New York.
Note these key features of this architectural marvel:
A. Highly detailed, incredibly accurate rendition of the New York skyline, including the Empire State Building (second from left, cropped off).
B. The developers faithfully recreated the controversial NYC Commuter ScreamMachine, a 50-story roller coaster which encircles the entire isle and provides cheap and exciting public transportation for all residents.
C. Since I cropped this photo so poorly--and don't particularly feel like re-scanning it--you won't see the headless Statue of Liberty that was under construction at the time of our visit.
Second Stop: Salt Lake City
My brother Ken and his bride, Shannon, were married at an Elk's Lodge just outside of Salt Lake City. At first glance, a rented hall doesn't seem the most romantic of venues for exchanging one's vows, but think about it--no religious drapings, no mass, no readings from that Bible thing, none of that nonsense. Just a hired gun who kept the religious rhetoric to a bearable minimum. And furthermore, since the reception was held in the same room as the ceremony, we all started boozing it up at 11:30 a.m. when the wedding started!
So, I am quite happy to report that this was one of the most enjoyable weddings I've attended in recent years. My sincerest, best wishes go out to my brother and new sister-in-law. It's about time Ken found himself a good woman to keep him in line.
Four Elk of
This unidentified guest hit the wet bar a little too hard for an early Saturday afternoon. Soon after this photo was taken, the subject was escorted out the door and placed in the protective care of her family.
Fuck the chicken dance! One of the Doobie Brothers played at this wedding. The cover songs were fine, but his original material was lacking.
I told him to not quit his day job, but was embarrassed to find out that this was his day job.
Ken and Shannon enjoy their first dance as a married couple. Note the Elk of Brotherly Love (lightened and retouched for clarity) watching ominously in the background.
Fact: There'd be nothing much ado about Salt Lake City if it weren't for those kooky Mormons. Also known as the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints, these prime examples of Christian Craziness offer very little in the way of dynamic individualism as far as the proper religion is concerned. Love Thy Neighbor. Jesus Loves You. Etc. Snooze.
The basic premise is thus: John Smith set out to spread the word, but was quickly jailed and murdered somewhere in the Midwest. His second-in-command, Brigham Young (aka "Big-and-Hung" to non-Mormon locals) took over and led the congregation to Salt Lake City, where they founded the Mormon Church. Everyone knows that polygamy is a Mormon Thing, but not everyone knows that the Mormons claim to house the largest genealogical database in the world. Right there in Salt Lake City! (Closed on weekends. Fuck!) See, it all ties together: only the Mormons will be going to Heaven come Judgment Day, so it's very important that as many bloodlines and lineages as possible are documented, especially with that pesky polygamy mucking up the whole birth defect equation. They figure that when the Big Day comes, the Big Guy will have so much on his mind that he won't be able to keep track of everyone. So that database will come in quite handy for all involved. (And you always imagined that Santa's list would be a bitch to keep current!) Basically, everyone not on the Qualified Mormon List will rightly go to Hell.
In spite of all that nonsense, I must admit that the HQ at Temple Square is genuinely impressive. Our tour guide was Sister Augustine, a very attractive Caribbean woman who was on her "mission"--eighteen months of voluntary service for the Church--after being converted to the Mormon faith by a friend of her parents (some friend!) In any case, here's the highlight of the tour: The Talking Jesus Statue. In case you were ever curious, Jesus speaks perfect English with absolutely no regional accent. He also had nothing interesting to say, and did not take questions at the end.
If you ever find yourself in Salt Lake, do take the tour. It's free, and the room which houses the statue is covered by an incredible, Yessongs-ish mural of the universe.