Vegas Report 2018

It’s been a while since we made it to Vegas, and this year we did it big. We had 4 adults and 3 younger adults.

It was probably WAY too early, but they allowed me to setup and take that picture. Good sports at pre-5 am.

This was the first flight for Joe since he was like 2, which he doesn’t remember, and so I had to take some pics for posterity.

The flight on Delta was fairly comfortable and the seats all had video screens that could play movies and had access to flight info like altitude, MPH and times from destination and such. It was pretty cool actually.

That was not the case when we got to Minneapolis. Sigh. Nor on the way back on Frontier.

At any rate, we made it.

Let me paint you a picture of our first day.  H  O  T.

Yes, we managed to come to Vegas during a time when they were poised to set heat records. Temps were in the 113 to 115 range. It was hot. Even dry heat hot. For those folks that perform outside, like down on Freemont Street, it must be hell.

Outside our hotel, through a gift shop, I heard some music and went to investigate. This poor guy was wailing some Black Crowes out it that heat. He was good, but I didn’t have time to stay and listen. Too bad.

The air conditioner on the chair behind him is a nice touch. Hope it helped.

That night we did KA. It was as amazing the second time as the first. Maybe better. The sights, the sounds, the acrobatics… stupendous. After that we were done. Overdone actually, we were only 2 hours short of being awake for 24 hours, so we called it quits.

The next day we rented a cabana by the pool. It was a nice relaxing time. The sun was behind the fake New York New York buildings for a while, but when it came over the building you could start to feel the effects of the “Excessive Heat Warnings” that were happening. Without the cabana and the surprisingly cool water, I would not have survived the many hours we spent there.

In the evening we ventured over to Luxor for dinner and to check out the ESports arena.

https://www.esportsarenavegas.com/

This turned out to be a colossal hit with the boys. We set them up with an hour before our show. Even I had to admit it was pretty damn cool.

There was a Super Smash Bros. tournament happening that night. Joey likey.

From there we went to see Blue Man Group. Cindy and I have toyed with going to see them before, but hadn’t yet, so I was excited. I expected a lot of drumming. There was that, but also there was a lot of comedy and other stuff too, which I found a pleasant surprise. I thought it was great and I’m glad we finally got to go see and hear these guys.

Here is a non-Vegas version of some of their stuff that I found:

Another night that spent us. After the show we went back to the room and passed out.

The next day we took the boys BACK to the ESports arena, reminded them that they would have to remember to order food at some point, and turned them loose. They were in Nirvana. (music reference?)

5 hours of gaming was slayed.

The rest of the day we gambled (thank you “Heidi’s Bier Haus”), had a nice dinner, packed and got some sleep. No one was looking forward to travelling again, but at least it was a straight flight.

On our way to our gate I did notice 2 things I had to stop and take pictures of…

Rush Playing Cards!

No, I didn’t buy them. Probably should have.

Bob Marley ear-buds.

I am not surprised by the branding of headphones with Marley’s image, the connection to music is obvious, at least more obvious than his drink line. What I noticed immediately though was that there was not one in the color scheme I was expecting of black, yellow and red. Ire.

and here is where I learned something.

I tried to search the Jamaican flag, but those colors weren’t right. They are black, yellow and green. Was I misremembering the colors? Nope.

To quote the Internet:

“They’re not “bob marely colors”.
They’re the colors of the Ethiopian flag.
Rastas use an older version of the flag, which has the conquering lion of judah.

They’re associated with Rastafarian’s first and foremost, but since people know so little about them, they associate the colors with Jamaicans (I guess since so many rastas are Jamaicans).

Red:
Blood of the people spilled in defense of the land, from years of slavery and oppression etc.

Yellow:
The church, peace and unification of the people, love.

Green:
Represents the land (natural beauty and such)”

It all kind of makes sense now, and I can’t believe it took me until I was in my 50’s to understand this. All because of some Bob Marley airport gift shop advertisement.

Vegas is great, but in the quiet bird chirping morning I noticed my ears were still ringing with the dings and bells of the casino and the Heidi and Hans songs was playing over and over again in my head. It will fade…

eventually.

There is no place like home.

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Rock And Roll Pictures Continued.

Saw this in a window of place we stopped for breakfast. I walked on the lawn just to get this picture

Nice.

Oh Lord Yeah!

😉

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Kate Bush – My Gateway Drug To Fiona, Tori, Aimee And Dolores

As I was ripping another St. Vinny’s $1 CD, I noticed something that made me laugh.

The CD is Kate Bush’s “Never For Ever”, her 3rd and one I didn’t have in my catalog, the last time I owned it was on a tape I dubbed from the guy who introduced me to Kate back in my UW Milwaukee days. His name was Anton.

Anton was worldly, smart as hell, taking Russian (which I presume is a difficult language to learn) and was for a short while, rooming with Andy in the double room in our suite.

Anton would go with me to the record store and on one such occasion he purchased an album by Kate Bush. I had never heard of her, but the album blew me away, totally.

Kat Bush – Hounds Of Love

What can be said about this album that easily fits into words. It is so moving, and scary, and beautiful and unforgettable. Each side of the album, sorry CD folks, is a collection apart from the other. The first side, like a bouncy set of pop melodies that make you sing along and shout and rise and fall along with her voice as she belts it out. Then the second side is a weird glorious journey with chaos and calm swirling about each other, then finishing with a lilting way out with “The Morning Fog” which always brought me back and made me smile and shake it all off and made me want to play it all again.

When he discovered that I liked it, he turned me on to older stuff that he had, like “The Kick Inside” and “The Dreaming”. This was SO not the type of music I was listening to at the time. I was listening to Rush and ZZ Top and Judas Priest and even I couldn’t understand what drew me to this voice and style of music, but I was hooked.

The thing that made me laugh was when I ripped the Never For Ever CD, the Windows Media Player album info labelled it as ALTERNATIVE.

Maybe in its time it was alternative, but in this day and age? I don’t know.

She is different, that’s for sure, and the music was just as different. Check out this documentary on her if you aren’t familiar with her voice or music. You can hear her regular speaking voice, and see Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols – PIL) and Tori Amos speak about her.

The album “The Kick Inside” was the weirdest, songbird vocal mish-mash of styles that I had ever heard. “Hounds Of Love” came out of no where and blindsided me. I don’t know if it was the time in my life, or that it was almost the exact opposite of what I was listening to and I needed a new direction… whatever it was, those 2 albums changed me.

As I look back now, it occurs to me that it was Kate and her voice and style that helped steer me to artists like Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Aimee Mann (‘Til Tuesday) and Dolores O’Riordan (The Cranberries). All adventurous and mysterious and doing it their way. It all makes sense. A turning point in the music that I listened to and appreciated expanded when Anton introduced me to Kate Bush.

Thanks Anton.

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How To Know If Your 16 Year Old Has Been In Your Music Room

The other day as Joe and I were both in the basement (for different reasons) and I decided to put on a record for us (me) to listen to. I stepped into the music room to put on some vinyl and I noticed something right away that made me smile. Despite being concerned that someone was in my music room, I had to laugh and memorialized it here.

I have a wooden figure that I believe is used for decoration and for artists.

I use it to hold up my “now playing” record.

I use this all the time, but it was especially helpful when I was doing Instagram photos of albums I was playing and collecting. Hello all you vinyl Instagramers! Social media vinyl groups are out there and still going strong. Anyway…

What was it that had me laughing? Someone had been in my music room and while there, posed the wooden figure. Someone young.

Nice Joe.

At least he didn’t try and make him do the Dougie.

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Rolling Stone Goes Big

Literally.

I have been known to complain about Rolling Stone. I have complained that there is not enough music coverage, too much politics, and what is the deal with not having a musician on the cover? I had to come to terms with the fact that even though Rolling Stone is synonymous with MUSIC in my mind, in reality, it is more diversified than that. Fine. Okay.

There was even a move to reduce the size of the magazine. It went from a colossus, almost newsprint gazette size, to a smaller, but still oversized magazine, to a “normal” sized magazine with a spine, to then a saddle stapled thin affair in the last few years. Sad really, but in this day and age I guess I should be happy they even exist.

It could be worse I suppose. I recall the magazine Dalton used to get Alternative Press which went to digest size.

This month however, I was surprised to find a large Rolling Stone in my mailbox. I was like “what???…”   At first I thought it might be some special edition, but on closer inspection, nope, this was this month’s issue.

Last month compared to this month. Sorry for the shameless promotional item obscuring my address.

Bigger!

Not only bigger, but considerably meatier too. With a return to a spine!

and the cover of this issue (sneak peek above) has a musician! I don’t really know who Cardi B & Offset are, but that’s on me. Not my style of music, but at least a musician cover and not an actor or politician or terrorist.

So, bigger and more pages and better paper… a return to the old days a bit. I’m impressed.

Also, for the really astute Rolling Stone subscriber, you may now remove the shipping label. That is if you are hugely a freak about such things. I got it this far for a photo. Not perfect, but if you take your time it can be removed cleanly and completely.

In the last few years the address label was simply printed directly on the cover, sometimes marring what would have been a stunning music room showpiece. Ahem, the David Bowie and Prince issues. Disfigured if you ask me. Shout-outs to some local places for obscuring this time.

So that is an another improvement. I left the label on this issue, sorry Kardi B & Offset, but if they do another Bowie or Prince cover, I will definitely take a few moments and peel ever so carefully so that the label doesn’t become permanently stuck on. Just know that it is possible for you freaks like me.

A few pages in I came across the editor’s letter that talked about the move to the new format in some detail.

I have to say, they got me. I am really impressed, and I don’t mind the monthly instead of bi-weekly. I like this step up, and think it’s a bold move considering a lot of magazines and newspapers going strictly online these days. Rolling Stone already has a great website, so it wouldn’t be a shock if one day they did away with the print media, but for now, enjoy.

Inside, my old eyes delighted to the larger pictures in the Random Notes section.

I read the Johnny Depp article, and thought the chart on “How The Music Biz Came BAck From The Dead” was very interesting indeed. Streaming is kicking downloads butt? Wow.

In all I have to say I am really pleased with the new format. I do have my hard and fast criticisms still. Less politics, more music reviews and more music articles! But I have made my peace with knowing that this will never happen.

Although.

I does seem they heard my complaints about the miniaturization of the magazine itself. Now how about moving the admittedly improved address label to the BACK of the magazine. That must be technically possible, yes?

You never know.

At any rate, good job Rolling Stone. You went big. Props.

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Vinyl – The New Baseball Card?

So I admit, I dug my subscription to Vinyl Me Please which Cindy picked up for me for my Birthday last year. Six months of awesome colored vinyl and great music. The last one I picked up was Arctic Monkey’s

Which had smoke colored vinyl and an ashtray custom label.

It’s awesome. VMP takes albums and makes special editions of them with colored vinyl and special art and inserts etc. and it becomes collectible. This is not new of course. Barnes and Nobles comes to mind. They have been doing it for a while with their own special pressings.

The trend continues and is reaching less high brow establishments.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Half Price Books, and I do purchase vinyl from there, but I do not consider them a strong vinyl marketplace, though they do sell a smattering of new albums since the vinyl resurgence.

But now this…

A special HPB pressing?

I know there are people out there that will love this. I just wonder though if vinyl is going the way of the baseball card.

Remember when baseball cards were a thing between you and your friends, there were like 3 brands and you traded with your friends and would look through their cards while mumbling… got it, got it, got it, need it, got it, got it….

Then came the BOOM of sports cards and suddenly there were 50 brands and instead of having 3 cards of a player there were 53 cards of a player and special cards of him too. It went way over the top and seems to have remained there.

I worry, not just because of HPB, that the exclusive pressings and box sets and colored vinyl and Record Store Day special editions are just fractionating the value and more importantly the fun of being a record collector.

Again, nothing against HPB.

When the Dollar Store in my area has a special pressing… I’m out.

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Jeff / Monkey And Hawkwind

There are certain people in my life that I associate with music. When I hear a band they pop into my head.

I’m not sure I have ever written about Monkey before here in this blog.

His name was Jeff, and yes that was confusing because my best friend’s name at the time was Jeff, who is now Alan… anyway, I called him Monkey. This was due to the fact that he was a rock climber, among other things and he climbed the tree in the front yard at the house where I rented a room on 3312 N. Summit Avenue right off the UW Milwaukee campus.

I knew him as Jeff, but once I came home from class to find him rope climbing in the tree in the side yard, he became Monkey.

Monkey was intense. He was in the room across from me and he was into 3 things.

1. Climbing
2. Photography
3. Hawkwind

I used to hang out with him in his room and talk crap and have some beers and for the life of me I can’t recall anything we ever said, but I remember the ambiance. Monkey only had one desk lamp in his room and he had little if any furniture, so I usually sat on the floor. I remember in particular several nights that I hung out with him while he was prepping some photos for a showing at the University. Oddly, I have no idea what kind of classes he was taking.

Monkey would sit at his desk, under the desk lamp, using a blow brush to clean dust off his photos as he put them in the frames that he would put up for his show and while he did that… we listened to Hawkwind.

Hawkwind, for those of you who don’t know is a band formed in the early 70’s that was the epitome of space rock. Lemmy famously came from the band. There was a huge sci-fi bend to the music and it was cosmic and psychedelic and hard rocking. It was an experience. He had them all on vinyl and played them back to back to back all night long. I really don’t recall him playing anything else. He would jump up occasionally and do some really exaggerated rock moves and belt out the lyrics in a half shout, and then just as quickly he dropped back into his chair and continued to wisk away dust that I couldn’t even see, but that he claimed would simply “destroy” the presentation of his work.

The Hawkwind was SO not the kind of stuff I was listening to at the time, but I dug it. There was a certain sound to it that I liked and coupled with the weird ambiance of the room and the weird time in my life that those day became, it was a good mix.

I recall specifically these 2

Space Ritual

Warrior On The Edge Of Time

and a song from Space Ritual came up in a Spotify playlist that other day and blew my mind.

Oddly, when I think of Lemmy, I think of the “Young Ones” episode that Motorhead played in. When I hear Hawkwind though, I think of Jeff.

Monkey!

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