ELEVATION: The Tour Diary ("For my sanity and your entertainment," M.) - Page 13
For those of you about to rock, I salute you!
(OK, that was kinda cheesy... I know...)
I'll be spending my day Wednesday at the Pepsi Center, chilling out (snow or shine) with other groupies and getting primed for prime floor space. If all goes according to plan, I'll be right in the heart of it all, literally and figuratively.
For some of you, it's a mystery why I refer to this guy nicknamed "Bono" as my mentor. Well, here's a story that should help clarify matters:
It's pretty good - and it actually talks about some of Bono's mistakes. Yeah, the man does make some - just like me! And when he does, they tend to be on a fairly large scale - kinda like me!
For one, there was that experiment with bringing in live satellite feeds from war-torn Sarajevo and letting those displaced by the war say what's on their mind during the ZOO-TV tour. He burst a few joy bubbles with that one - live rock and live war don't mix too well, it seems. But, he manages to brush the mistakes off and protect his "fragile rock star ego," meet with heads of state, befriend politicians on the left and the right, address the UN, swap sunglasses for rosary beads with the Pope... Not too shabby. That whole "saving the world" thing even sounds kinda fun.
At the time of the Slane shows this summer, a writer for the Irish Times wrote an article recommending Bono be made a Saint, or at least canonized. True, there are some substantial barriers to making that happen, but it's quite a powerful testimonial to Bono's talents, with or without music.
Here's one more clipping, a review of their recent show in Chicago. Just a primer....
After following the band around for the past year (hmmm... or were they following me around?), I've got one thought that won't go away:
One day, this band and I are both gonna make it big!
My first trip after the events of September 11. The security at Denver International Airport treated me to a full search - emptied pockets, the wand, lifting up my shoes for a wand scan. They wouldn't divulge if I was a random check or if I set something off. Actually, when I asked the woman, she genuinely seemed to have no idea why I was selected for the search.
It had been about seven years since my last visit to Vegas; I refer to it as the Great Financial Purge of 1995. The town's changed a lot since then.
The changes worked to my advantage. With all the new casinos, the short weekend trip provided just enough time to check out all the new joints and left little time to do much damage to the wallet. Plus, there was a seductress: The weather was perfect, sunny and mild - ideal for walking around the strip. More importantly, though, I had a band to see.
I stayed at the Hotel San Remo. It benefits from a great location, just two blocks down from the active MGM Grand/New York - New York end of the strip. But the rooms were mediocre. You know you're in a really classy joint when your room number is handwritten on the wall by the room's door. The plaque must've become somebody's idea of a souvenir. My room, #1038, also featured a stunning view of the airport.
Once upon a time, it seemed like Vegas was turning into a city-sized Disneyland. Mercifully, an adult orientation is returning to the town; one upstanding denizen commented that Vegas realized it was making a mistake by making the place too kid friendly. But, that doesn't exactly mean they needed to let all the porn hustlers run rampant. I remember them with their "brochures" from my last trip. Now they've multiplied and nearly every street corner is littered with the hucksters slapping their flyers around and flicking them in front of passers-by.
On the plus side, they now have a Guggenheim museum, lots of cool shows, and plenty of razzle-dazzle to keep the attention-deficient among us occupied with plenty to look at. Unfortunately, Spielberg's sub shop, Dive!, opened and closed between my visits and I never got a chance to chomp down one of the gourmet sandwiches.
Of all the new casinos, New York - New York struck me as the most clever. The place had steam rising from manhole covers in the walkways between slot machines. The attention to detail was impressive, with a replica of the "Imagine" circle commemorating John Lennon in Central Park's Strawberry Fields, a mini-Little Italy, Greenwich Village, subway stations (restrooms), financial district, and theatre district. The casino also had a (surprise!) reasonably priced restaurant, Americas, which served as a meeting point for fellow groupies on the eve of the show.
There was a bit of dorky amusement to be had in wearing my Mattimus cap in the Roman-themed casinos. The prospect of Caesars Palace opening a Vegas-style recreation of the Coliseum begs my return in 2003. The free tour of Caesars Magical Empire was actually pretty cool, too. Yeah, it's mainly a commercial for the restaurant, but it was nice to see the place, go for the elevator ride down to the "catacombs," and feel the heat of a massive fire-belching temple. When asked about how hard it was to make reservations, the tour guide, all done up in his Roman wizard robes, said it was difficult to get a reservation "before everything happened." Now they're still trying to get business back.
But, after a while similarities and patterns creeped in. New York - New York, Paris, Aladdin Desert Passage, Venetian, Monte Carlo, Caesars - they all had the ceiling painted like the sky. They all had their gift shops and glitzy, high-end boutiques. Aladdin tried to trump 'em all with an indoor rain storm, but it was kinda cheesy. The acrobatic act performing outside, though, was worth sticking around to watch.
Bally's was big, but dull. Excalibur was dated and juvenile. The Bellagio's free outdoor water show was impressive and worth the wait. (But a pint of Guinness inside was $6. Unrelated? Nah. Something has to pay for the "ambiance.")
Along the way, I actually won some pocket change. $10.00 in the Venetian, $12.50 in Luxor. Woo-hoo!
Finally, M&M World was an enjoyable jaunt through crass commercialism. The visit included a free screening of I Lost My "M" in Las Vegas, a short 3-D movie that mixed live action, animation, and "Socks." It was imaginative and funny. While the store had every M&M color under the sun, the price was scandalous - $8/pound!
Surprisingly, my exit was easy. It took less than 15 minutes to get from the hotel to the airport, checked in, through security (with keys, change, and watch all still in the pockets), and have a Sam Adams (Guinness was not an option) poured at the airport's Cheers. Plenty of time to hang out. A woman by the name of Star Child sat next to me at the bar and let it rip when talking to the bartender. A singer with Diana Ross, and an ex-girlfriend of Flip Wilson, she was upset that she had to endure a thorough search of her baggage and mussing up of her carefully-packed outfits.
With that, the Mattimus Leg of the Elevation Tour 2001 came to a close. It was a bittersweet experience, but the anticipation is already brewing for the next tour. The goal will always be EL-E-VA-TION!
Parting thought: "It is never too late to be what you might become." - George Eliot (quoted on a sign on the UNLV campus)
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