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Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Facing the Firing Squad, Las Vegas | 0 comments

Steven J. Horner: Rebel With a Cause

 

 

MEET STEVEN J. HORNER

“All politics is local,” is a common truism meaning that what we do with our lives within our local communities often produces the most tangible results.

Steven Horner, a retiree living in Las Vegas, best personifies this spirit of local politics.  He’s busier than most people half his age, often tirelessly putting in 60 to 70 hours per week on any of his pet projects and political activities.  He’s a champion of public education, always his favorite topic to discuss.  Any day or any night, Horner is likely to be seen participating in a public march, organizing a meeting, volunteering on a project, or directly lobbying an elected official.  Horner is a 27/7/365 activist who lives, breaths, and preaches his philosophy of life — which is justice and opportunity for all.

I first met Horner at a local political meeting right after the 2016 presidential election.  Stunned by the electoral disaster, Horner was quick to launch into action.  Always prepared to act and not just whine and complain, he began organizing yet another generation of activists eager to engage in a new battle and channel a wayward shock of political defeat into something constructive and meaningful.

Horner is the chairman of a local Democratic Party organization, a responsibility which only scratches the surface of a weekly routine which includes ceaseless political activities.  He attends local public hearings, where he often speaks about important issues.  He travels to the state capital (at his own expense) to meet with legislators.  He works with volunteers and other activists determined to fight for common values.

Whatever your politics, one has to genuinely admire Horner’s intense personal commitment and boundless energy.

Steven J. Horner was born on July 17th, 1951 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He was the first of four children born to Jack and Ruthanne Horner.  When he was young, the Horner family moved and he grew up in McGill, Nevada — a small mining town run by Kennecott Copper Corporation.

Later, Horner attended a boarding school in Mt. Pleasant, Utah — Wasatch Academy.  This experience was “one of the truest influences in my life,” he says.  Indeed, this strict educational indoctrination at a church school triggered the first of many impulses over a lifetime to #resist.  Horner’s revolutionary spirit first sprouted during a time of sweeping political and social change across America.  Horner’s questioning of the establishment resulted in expulsion from school during his junior year.  He questioned the rules set forth by the governing church, which was not a popular thing to do in Utah at the time.  Horner was branded as a troublemaker — a label he would eventually come to embrace as someone not willing to sit by idly in the face of ignorance and unfairness.

Horner did not graduate until later in life, a shocking revelation given his intense devotion to public education and broad knowledge of so many different subjects.  Horner later moved to Silver City, New Mexico, where he met his wife while working at a semi-professional theatre.

In 1971, Horner moved to Las Vegas.  “I did many little jobs, drove a truck, worked as a bartender, and a cook,” he says.  Shawn, his first child was born a year later.  Later, he had a second child, aptly named Hope.

Many who know Horner now might be taken back by his decision to enlist in the U.S. Army in 1973 — just as the Vietnam War was coming to an end.  He served and was even stationed in Italy for a time.  Despite a growing family and active military service, there was still a deep void in Horner’s life.  He knew that he had to go back to school and complete his education.

And so, after years in the Army, Horner returned home to Las Vegas.  In 1979, he began to pursue a B.A. in Theatre Arts.  However, he’d take another personal detour which lasted ten long years.  Behind the scenes, there was a darker cloud overhead which had begun to profoundly impact his daily routine, and not in a good way.

Horner recognized that he’d become an alcoholic.  In fact, the 1980s were something of a blur, until Horner finally woke up one morning convinced he had to make some serious changes in his life.  His sobriety began on June 12, 1990 (Horner still remembers the exact date).  Sober and feeling alive again, he returned to UNLV and completed his BA in 1992.  Three years later, Horner — the rebellious youngster who had once been expelled from a church institution and dropped out of high school and later even college — was awarded an MEd in Special Education.

Horner went on to become a teacher in the Clark County Public Schools where he’s spent the balance of his time teaching and working as an advocate for teachers.  Horner insists he “retired” in 2014, but now remains busier than ever.

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STEVEN J. HORNER FACES THE FIRING SQUAD
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What are some of the things you stand for?

My passions are public education (specifically K-12, but also includes all public education i.e., Headstart and all public colleges) and workers’ rights especially to collective bargaining protection. I also advocate for universal healthcare, public lands, clean and renewable energy.  The exploitation of any minority is something that I do engage in as well, no matter the reason no person should be treated as inferior. Overall, I will stand with people above the churches and corporations that currently seem to control many of our world`s governments.

 

What are some of the things you stand against?

Corporate greed and the destruction of the public education system. Beyond that, the narcissistic attitude that gives some individuals the sense that somehow elitism is acceptable. Money is a necessary evil in our current lives, however I will stand against and will fight the greed that leads to this behavior. To deny any living being the basic needs of life is cruel and undeniably the most reprehensible attitude displayed by anyone. And that I will always stand against this no after what the opposition.

 

What living person do you admire the most, and why?

I hate to be cliché, I have many living heroes for many reasons, but Hank Aaron is the man that I can always look to for inspiration. From 1957 when I listened to game winning home run in a World Series game to the night I watch on TV him hit number 715, he was a man that did with class and no self-bravado.  No matter the death threats, hate mail, rejection by Bowie Kuhen and MLB he went out each day and did the job he was given and always gave it his best effort. I will never know what it is like a to be an African American and that kind of hate, but I do know that when faced with so much hate and so many obstacles here was a man that truly held his head high and rose above it all to just do his job in the Deep South.

 

What historical figure do you admire the most, and why?

Those that died in a cause of helping the working people to have a voice, these individuals were often nameless and lived in poverty. Because those individuals stood their ground and died for their brothers and sisters to have a better life is something I think about every day. I grew up in a mining town and saw the benefits of those that stood up. From the Railroad massacres in the 1800’s to the mining deaths as recent as the last decade, I recognize the worker, not the union boss, as the true hero in the strife for those that work every day to keep food on the table and a roof over the heads of their family.

 

What living person do you despise?

The Donald Trumps of the world — those willing to lie, cheat, and exploit to gain a place of power to further the lying, cheating, and exploitation. Donald Trump is the most visible, but I have seen these people in all places, union leadership, principal of a school, elected officials, any place that there is an illusion of power over other people.

 

If money were not an object, what profession would you choose?

I was and would again be a teacher.  I am sorry I ever left the profession.

 

What is it about yourself that you are most proud of?

My sobriety.

 

What is it about yourself that you’d like to change?

I would like to be a stronger leader, both with my grandchildren and my fellow people — I feel at times like I have failed them.

 

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?

I can’t think of a specific single event. Every time I advocated for a teacher that was being bullied or exploited I felt excited and as if this was a mission. We didn’t always win but we gave it the best fight and those on the other side knew they had to work hard to gain a victory, but on those occasions we prevailed I felt as if the world had gained a victory.

 

What’s the most unusual time and place you’ve ever visited?

The Presidential Inauguration in 2012. I have never been comfortable in large crowds but to watch a President that I voted for, with my grandson and wife being sworn in was a very unusual albeit exciting time. But not one I would like to repeat.

 

Name a place you’ve never visited where you still want to go.

The Death Camps of Nazi Germany… man’s inhumanity to his fellow beings is something I have a difficult time understanding and I continue to search places that represent that inhumanity. From Little Big Horn to Andersonville, to Japanese internment camp in Twin Falls and Delta, I search for the reason and hope to learn how to bring forward the idea that this can never happen again.

 

Favorite book, favorite movie, and favorite musician.

Favorite (Fiction) book and movie are the same — To Kill a Mockingbird.

Non Fiction is — Das Kapital

Favorite musicians:  Tchaikovsky and Andrew Lloyd Weber

 

What upsets you the most?

Politicians that vote against the will of the people that elect them, then tell the electorate that they just don’t understand.  That kind of arrogance is what makes politics unappealing to the masses.

 

What bores you?

Reality television this is truly the dumbing down of the people, followed closely but self-gratifying people.

 

Do you believe in an afterlife and why do you believe it so?

Okay, metaphysics also bores me.  No, I personally do not believe in the afterlife or a mythical deity.  I do believe that each day if you get up and do your best, someone will remember you and tell someone else of what kind of daily hero you were and through the oral history that memory will be forever.

 

Finally, I understand you have another passion that might strike some as strange given your background.  Why is golf your hobby?

I realize that it is probably the one sport that symbolizes everything I despise, but I find competition a waste of time unless it is against myself. I also find it amazing that a sport that perfection cannot be achieved is something to which I can relate. Each swing is something that I try to repeat but find each is different. It is also a time that I can find some reflection time.  It is the sport of the rich, but sometimes the poor can find solace in the imperfection that is golf.

 

 

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Posted by on Jul 3, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 2 comments

Elia Authentic Greek Taverna — Las Vegas (Restaurant Review)

 

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Elia Authentic Greek Taverna is a new restaurant located on the west side of Las Vegas, just south of the intersection of Flamingo and Durango.

This location has been quite a tough sell for restaurauteurs and local foodies who fancy trying out new and creative ethnic cuisine.  Previously, the sun-bleached strip-mall storefront has been the culinary graveyard of an upscale seafood eatery (closed in 2008) followed by Gino’s Italian Bistro (which closed last year).  For those keeping score, that’s 0-for-2 — even though both prior places were well above-average restaurants that I enjoyed frequently (though apparently not frequently enough).

Elia likely stands a much better chance for success based on a number of reasons.  First, the local economy is far better now, than a decade ago.  Many popular upscale eateries in Las Vegas shuttered their doors following the economic crash of ’08, which now seems like a distant memory with all the mess going on right now.  The surrounding area has changed also, with the most notable new neighbor being Mint Indian Bistro, which moved in directly behind Elia’s.  Using the magnet marketing theory, the very best thing that can happen to restaurant struggling to create a steady clientele is having another creative dining force located right next door.

More belaboring a proven point, if I may.  This area has been utterly flooded by Mediterranean restaurants over the last decade, at least in proportion to the local population, many who probably don’t know the difference between a falafel and kibbeh.  Directly across the street, a nice Persian restaurant closed-down just three months ago.  Half a mile to the north is Zaytoon, my favorite Iranian market-bistro here on the West Side.  Even Putter’s Bar and Grill, a popular neighborhood pub about 200 feet away serves up tasty Lebanese food.  Yeah, I know — Greek food isn’t the same as Lebanese or Persian food, but many Americans likely won’t see much of a difference in the basic ingredients.  This is what makes Elia’s challenge all the more intriguing.

Elia is small, about what one might expect if vacationing on the islands of Kos or Crete.  White tablecloths, perfectly manicured tabletops, and a sparkling clean interior are most welcoming.  So was the house music, played at the perfect decibel level, which are mostly mandolin-heavy Greek instrumentals — a perfect background for table conversation.  Even more welcoming is the friendly ownership and staff, which greets customers instantly.  From the moment we walk in the front door, we are made to feel like their house guests.

What may be the best price-fixed menu in Las Vegas is available until 3 pm daily at Elia, and this made for an easy choice among lots of temptations to choose from.  For $15, a three-course meal with various options is available.  The courses include an appetizer or salad, a main course with potatoes, and a dessert.  All for 15 bucks.  That’s quite a bargain.

This might seem like a small thing, but it’s really a big thing.  It often foretells of the experience to come, and that’s the bread.  Many restaurants opt to go cheap in the bread, serving stale unimaginative dinner rolls or slices of white bread that are little more than caloric time-buyers intended to stave off customers until the main course arrives.  Not Elia.  Their bread was oven fresh, as good as any European bakery in the city.  Pipping hot, laced with flour, crispy, and accompanied by an above-average ramekin of Greek olive oil.  This was a very good sign.

Then, the first of three courses was served.  We began with Keftedakia, which is essentially Greek meatballs (borrowing from the Turkish Kofta).  Four were served on a platter with mint, onion, and parsley.  I could have enjoyed this as a main course — yes, it was that satisfying.  My three-course meal also included a marvelous Greek salad, though not of the standard creation one is typically used to at many Greek-American restaurants.  Mine was made of immaculately chopped rocket lettuce, topped with a perfect seasoning of olive oil, zesty lemon, and mint, accompanied by a delicious block of feta cheese and black olives.  Yummy.

The main course (e.g. the second course) was also satisfying, but not quite up to the glorious standards of both value and quality set forth in the appetizer (and finished with the dessert).  I enjoyed my home-made gyro sandwich, which is pretty standard at all Greek establishments.  To their credit, the meat wasn’t nearly as salty as I’ve tasted elsewhere.  The yogurt sauce wrapped in the pita was delicious.  Elia also serves fresh, hand-cut fries (not frozen) on the side, which merits applause.  Again, this is a very minor critique, and can certainly be overcome by ordering one of many other Greek dishes available at lunch and dinner ( must return and try multiple items — perhaps worthy of a follow up report).  If the bread and appetizer scored a 10, the main dish would scale an 8.  As for the next course, I would give it an “11.”

Dessert was fabulous.  I wolfed down my rice pudding, served in a cold cup, topped off with a generous dazzle of reddish cinnamon.  Marieta enjoyed her fresh yogurt topped with a coulis of three fresh berries — raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.  The rich creamy yogurt, which I’m not typically a fan of, was stunningly delicious.  We fought over the last few bites.  The tart topping of berries was as zestfully delightful as any five-star restaurant.  I would call this simple, yet delicate Greek closer absolute perfection.

Our two three-course meals, with a drink and tip all came to $42 — a steal.  Dinner prices are equally competitive, but are assuredly an even better value given all the alternative mediocre food served elsewhere by run of the mill chains which charge considerably higher prices and then cut on the quality.  Give this place a try.  Skip the stale old Applebee’s or abomination of Friday’s for a night, and live a little.  You’ll be glad you did.

Elia receives my highest possible restaurant rating based on fast and friendly service, a comfortable atmosphere, authenticity, quality, and more than enough menu choices to keep me (and hopefully many readers) returning for more.

ELIA AUTHENTIC GREEK TAVERNA (OFFICIAL WEBSITE)

 

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Posted by on Jun 30, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Personal, Politics | 1 comment

Light My Fire (On Legalizing Marijuana)

 

 

Tonight at midnight, it becomes legal to smoke marijuana in Nevada.

This new law which goes into effect a few hours from now is long overdue, and hopefully a harbinger of things to come in other states.  I believe in the total decriminalization of (outlawed) drugs.

Let’s look at the hard facts.  The “War on Drugs” has been a failure from the start.  We’ve wasted billions of dollars in law enforcement and prosecution at every level.  We’ve blown billions more on incarceration.  We’ve ruined countless lives making non-violent drug violations every bit as harsh as murder and child sex crimes in some states.  We’ve also seen many people killed on both sides of the law because of drugs.

I say the “War on Drugs” has failed because no one can possibly make a convincing case that it’s succeeded.  Despite all the efforts — from law enforcement to education — the majority of Americans have tried illegal drugs at least once.  If that’s not a failure, I don’t know what is.  When hundreds of billions are blown fighting a pointless war with zero tangible results to show for it and still more than half the country ignores the law, what’s the point?

I’ve been asked to attend a few “Light Up” parties tonight here in Las Vegas.  One of my closest friends even wants me to write about his gathering of lucky invitees who will all get to imbibe in a secret stash that’s equivalent of popping the cork on a rare bottle of 1962 Chareau Lafite Rothschild.  Another associate suggested that actually I smoke marijuana for the first time and then document my experience as though I’m some poor man’s Timothy Leary.

Not happening.

Surprising as this news might be to many, I’ve never tried any illegal drug (other than moonshine — does that count?).  I’ve never had any desire to smoke, snort, nor inject.  I have my own reasons for this position, which I’ve conveyed in my past writings.  Nonetheless, this personal opinion about what’s best for me doesn’t preclude me to issue judgments towards others who may have quite a different view.  This is what’s called freedom and individual responsibility.  To each his (or her) own.

I love to drink and make no apologies.  I also know alcohol is a far deadlier vice than marijuana. On this there is no debate.  About 10,000 people die per year because of drunk drivers.  The number of injuries and amount of property damage caused by drinking is considerably higher.  Then, there are the needless brawls at public gatherings, the abusive marital relationships worsened by alcohol, and the general lethargy caused by drinking which probably makes this our most costly social addiction (except perhaps for guns).

So, what happens when we legalize marijuana?  Even for the “let’s legalize drugs” crowd, the results are pretty shocking.

A new study found that the number of traffic deaths declined in states where marijuana was legalized [REUTERS STORY HERE].  Traffic deaths declined!  One can speculate as to the reasons why there’s an apparent contradiction between changing laws and expectation.  Perhaps many users who would otherwise drink to excess are now smoking marijuana instead, which doesn’t necessarily inhibit operating a motor vehicle.  Maybe the worst that happens is the stoners fall asleep at traffic lights.  Maybe they’re too busy waiting at the drive-thru at In-and-Out Burger.  I don’t know.  But the statistics don’t lie.

So, who does lie?  Well, the Attorney General of the United States of America — for one.  Jeff Sessions is now ordering tougher drug sentences for offenders.  That’s right.  President Trump’s point man on criminal justice is taking us back to the bad old days of prohibition.  He’s returning to the failed policies of “Just Say No.”  All research shows this to be not just the wrong approach.  It will also waste more money.  It will clog up the overburdened courts.  It will lock up more people needlessly.  It will break up families.  It will waste money we do not have to waste [READ MORE HERE IN THE ECONOMIST].

We have truly reached the point where society is turned completely upside down.  We have responsible marijuana users who have been proven to cause little or no harm to society, nor to themselves.  We also now have an Administration and a federal government determined to prosecute and punish these people.  It’s madness.

June 30th, at least for one night and for a little while until the heavy hammer comes down, Nevada will join the ranks of progressive states with modern, science and fact-based 21st Century outlooks on drug laws.  Meanwhile, the Trump Administration intends to take us back to the failed drug polices of the past.

This is yet another policy position that is both stupid and utterly indefensible.

 

READ MORE:  I strongly recommend reading “Race and the Drug War,” which details the vast disparity of justice based on race and income.   

 

FOLLOW THE DISCUSSION ON FACEBOOK HERE.

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Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 5 comments

Restaurant Review: Gilley’s (Treasure Island — Las Vegas)

 

 

If you’e on the prowl for shitty barbecue, may I respectfully suggest the ghastly catacomb of rotting animal flesh which fronts the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, better known as Gilley’s Saloon, Dance Hall, and Barbecue.

This might be the worst restaurant on The Strip — including the hot dog hustler parked out in front of Pawn Stars 24/7.  If there’s a more dire dive of disappointment in this city — I’ve yet to succumb to such culinary depths.  Virtually everything about Gilley’s sucked — from the utterly flavorless incarceration masquerading as a main course, to the scatterbrained service staff which can generously be described as uninformed and indifferent to every customer necessity and desire.  Did I mention yet that I didn’t particularly care for the place?

I’m just getting warmed up.

Allow me to elaborate, and even go on a bit of a rant.

Two of us wasted blew spent $110 (with tip).  Still, we left hungry as toothless wolves.  Mind you, we weren’t enticed by any more of the tasteless travesty plopped upon our table at Gilley’s — just famished for anything for fucks sake, even that stale hot dog down the street that sure as shit would have hit the magic spot after 90 minutes inside Gilley’s pushing my food back and forth across the plate like I was playing chess.  We ordered one adult beverage each (one domestic beer and a house margarita).  So, subtract standard gratuity and two drinks, and the food still came out to about $35 a piece.  For half that figure, a five-minute drive could have landed us instead at Rollin’ Smoke Barbecue, a heap of picnic-tables nestled on an industrial strip crammed under a busy interstate, which are the local experts at feeding the hungry for $16 a lip-smacking plate, complete with all the delicious trimmings (and no tipping required).  Live and learn.  Sometimes, you don’t get what you pay for.  Sometimes you just get fucked.

Seriously.  How do you royally screw up good ole’ Texas barbecue, when that’s supposedly the house specialty?  You’ve got one job, people.  Do your job.  Good grief, how can someone actually put his (real) name on this place?

Of course, Gilley’s was never known for the food.  It’s more like a poor-man’s pick-up joint for shit kickers driving Chevy trucks worth more than their mobile homes.  Long neck beer bottles, $24 t-shirts, mechanical bulls mounted by drunk girls wearing thin-string bikinis — a sort of contrarian “we don’t give a shit” Times Square-South tourist trap where you expect to be fucked in the ass without the grease and pay twice the going rate for the privilege — that’s Gilley’s in one sharp spur of a sentence.

Gilley’s was created by country-western singer Mickey Gilley (who apparently is still alive according to his Wikipedia page and deserves to be charged with crimes against humanity for opening this abomination).  The bar and saloon first achieved fame in 1980 as the filming location for the hit movie “Urban Cowboy,” starring John Travolta, back when he was still the cute feather-haired Kotter kid and long before he turned into a psycho for the cult of Scientology.  The Houston suburb of Pasadena instantly became the Gilley’s flagship property and turned the notoriety of a brawling backroom brimming with barstools into a bustling multi-million dollar business, ala a Hard Rock Cafe for the country music crowd.  Years later, the (now imploded) Frontier Hotel and Casino housed Gilley’s initial venture into Las Vegas.  Then, following a six-year void when Gilley’s was demolished into dust and the last remnants of the mechanical bull had been trucked off to a garbage dump in Pahrump, Giley’s rebooted and 2.0 opened just as short walk away, at TI.

Our first hint of the disaster to come should have been as clear as the gorgeous 75-degree day.  Gilley’s front room was only about one-third filled to capacity during what should have been the busiest time of the week — 6:30 on a Saturday night.  When it comes to restaurants, if empty tables in prime time could talk, they usually scream — this place sucks!

Gilley’s is divided into two sections — a honky-tonk dive bar corded off towards the rear with a giant concrete dance floor and the famous bucking mechanical bull.  All this looked about as appealing as standing out in a parking lot watching someone change a flat tire.  I can’t imagine the unfathomable experience of spending a Saturday night (or any night of my life) sardined in-between line dancers of cowboy-hatted and belt-buckled yahoos guzzling Coors Light like it’s tap water at $7 a pop with a line stretching to the flooded urinal like Garth Brooks was playing a free concert inside.  Not my thing.  Then again, I didn’t come for the bull.  I came for the pork.

To be fair, Gilley’s does have at least one redeeming aesthetic quality, which is it’s ideal location.  It’s perfectly situated near the corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Sands Blvd. — across the street from the Wynn, the Venetian (which continues to be boycotted), and Fashion Show Mall.  Giant plate-glass windows looking out onto The Strip makes for prime people watching, although by the time I’d begun ingesting my sad excuse of a meal, those on the outside had become the object of my envy.

Full barbecue dinners with multiple meat options plus two side dishes range in price from $28.95 up to $55.95 (for fucking barbecue!).  Fortunately, as things turned out, less turned out to be more.  We both ordered the economy portion ($28.95), which was a blessing in disguise since the ribs (and side dishes) were so inexplicably bland, my taste buds seemed to numbed by an overdose of Novacane.  What happened to the flavor?

Indeed, there was something mighty peculiar about the pork ribs I ordered.  They weren’t salty.  They weren’t spicy.  They weren’t sweet.  They were sort of like — nothing.  Like something unearthed at an archaeological dig and tossed into a plate.  The pork ends resembled a grizzled jerky.  The barbecue sauce was so astonishingly flavorless that I did a first — hopelessly attempting to salvage the dining disaster by doctoring the sauce up with a shot of Tabasco.  How to describe the taste?  Think of boiled cafeteria-style ribs where every sliver and ounce of flavor was completely eviscerated out of the poor unfortunate animal which gave up its miserable life for the abomination of this appalling dining experience.

If the pork ribs were a disaster, then the baked beans turned out to be a magic show of disbelief.  Advertised on the menu as marinated in a zesty barbecue sauce and baked in molasses, the (canned?) beans could have possibly salvaged at least a star on my Trip Adviser review had they been the least bit tasty, or edible.  Not that I’m familiar with prison food on a firsthand basis, but those beans belonged in Leavenworth.  Slaves in chains eat tastier fare.  After two bites, and a napkin of mush, I gave up on the beans and pretty much knew the entire meal was a disaster.

One thing you sure have give to Southerners is — they usually know good food.  They (we) especially know good barbecue.  It’s just part of our DNA.  Just like you can’t open up a shitty Chinese restaurant in San Francisco or a lousy cheesesteak grill in Philadelphia and expect to stay in business, how Gilley’s has the balls to bill itself as the place for authentic Texas-style barbecue is jaw dropping.  Then again, if Guy Fieri can bill himself a master chef in this town, perhaps any fiction can be fabricated as fact.

Oddly enough, in some places the food really sucks but the service can partially compensate for a bad meal.  That’s happened to me — more times that I can recount, unfortunately.  Not this time, however.  You’ve got to really hand it to Gilley’s.  At least they’re consistent.  We were seated at the farthest possible table away from the entrance, despite plenty of available seats much closer to the front.  Once the bored waitress dressed in a cowboy hat and ass-kicking boots appeared with an accent that sounded like she was from Connecticut, things quickly went down hill from there.

For starters, I asked our server about a rib recommendation, eager for something that resembled Tony Roma’s — which has long been the gold standard for baby backs.  Well, our waitress had never heard of Tony Roma’s, a terribly bad sign that immediately disqualified her as our resident expert on rib commendations.  Next, when I asked for a baked potato — standard fare in any respectable barbecue joint, especially with a Texas theme — I came up rolling snake eyes.  “We don’t have baked potato,” she snapped.  Silly me, expecting something so goddamned simple as a baked potato to be on the menu.

I opted instead for (jail) beans, plus a side of onion rings.  Unlike the Bloomin’ Onion, a crispy oil-infested heart-stopping delight of debauchery served at Outback Steakhouse which are absolutely terrible for you, but which are about as short-term joyous as a hit of crack cocaine, my Gilley’s onion rings must have come straight from the deep freezer to the heat lamp.  Holy mother of god — even the onion rings were bland!  How is this even possible?  How do you murder the flavor out of onions?  As for other customary accompaniments in many rib joints, no bread was served.  There was no complimentary appetizer.  Nothing.  The waitress even forgot to bring a lemon for the iced tea.

I’m not quite finished yet.  Another bitch about Gilley’s — no bibs.  Baby bibs are typically provided by any respectable establishment specializing in ribs.  That way, the front of your shirt doesn’t end up looking like a Jackson Pollock painting.  Bibs are especially critical in popular rib restaurants where men wear ties.  Every restaurant in Memphis and New Orleans offers a bib to patrons.  Nothing ruins a tie faster than a blotch of reddish barbecue sauce.

After my third rib and second spill upon my yellow shirt, I glanced up at my sad-looking dinner companion and mumbled — “hey, this isn’t very good, is it?”  Wanting to be polite and no where near the asshole I can so often be, he just looked shrugged his shoulders and explained that he was really, really hungry.  I felt like I’d enlisted in the fucking Army.

After this torment of a meal was over, we dutifully paid our check, left a most undeserved 20 percent gratuity, and then bolted for the front door.  Despite walking past several employees who were standing around, including a hostess podium staffed by Gilley’s girls who seemed bored out of their skulls, no one bothered to say, “thank you,” or “please, come back again.”

Then again, don’t bother with the customary salutations.  We won’t be back again.

Gilley’s really fucking sucks.

 

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Posted by on Mar 17, 2017 in Blog, Essays, General Poker, Las Vegas, Rants and Raves | 5 comments

Video Poker Vasectomy

 

 

You can find video poker machines at some mighty strange places here in Las Vegas.

Video poker can be played at local bars and restaurants.  You can also try your luck at grocery stores and even gas stations.  Only in Las Vegas might a loaf of bread and gallon of milk end up costing $500.

Now, add hospitals to the list of predators.

Not content with bankrupting sick patients, overcharging insurance companies, and ripping off the government, at least one major Las Vegas hospital is about to plunge full steam ahead into the casino business.

Oh shit, I missed my straight flush draw.  Code Blue in the waiting room!

The hospital even paraded out a mental health “expert” to the curious media, who defended the unusual practice of installing video poker machines inside the facility’s rehab center.  Despite video poker having all the health benefits of watching television while scarfing down a bag of Ruffles, the “expert” professed that playing video poker stimulates the brain’s prefrontal cortex.

See you later — I’m off to get my prefrontal cortex stimulated.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m all for legalized gambling.  I even support some forms of so-called convenience gambling, which means offering easier public access to various forms of wagering — particularly live poker and sports wagering.

However, shouldn’t we be drawing the lines somewhere?  What next — craps tables at the funeral parlor?  Come to think of it, those padded wooden caskets might serve a remarkable duel function.  Seven out!  Line away!

At a time when just about every big casino on the Las Vegas Strip is grabbing gamblers by the ankles, turning us upside down, and shaking us like wilted rag dolls until every last nickel has spilled out onto the floor, the very last thing this town needs is another rigged game with a 10 percent house advantage.  Everyone’s involved in larceny now.  Even the Mormons, who own many of the supermarket chains with the worst video poker payouts on the planet, are in on the heist.  Why would we expect anything less from greedy hospitals who basically wrote the “how to” book on fleecing?

So, how did your annual physical go?  Well, there’s bad news and good news:  I just got diagnosed with herpes.  But I hit a royal flush!

With all the talk about Trumpcare recently, the notion of video poker machines flashing and ringing inside hospitals does give an entirely new meaning to reaching one’s deductible.  Gee, I wonder if I go on tilt and blow a grand in the Deuces Wild machine — will that apply to my annual out-of-pocket?  Can I get my 80-20 co-pay reimbursement on that brutal session of Double-Double Bonus?

That machine next to the urology center doesn’t pay out worth a damn!

Unfazed by criticism, one therapist at the local hospital which is scheduled to introduce Clark County’s first video poker machine offered up a novel idea as to how gamblers might multi-task during a playing session.  By the way, my dear readers — I’m not making this up.  The therapist really suggested this.  And I quote:

“We can also have them put wrist weights on, and they’re playing for a whole 15 minutes (a session),” she said.  “It can get you tired after doing it for 15 minutes.”

What?  Huh?  Seriously?  Weights on wrists while playing video poker?  Those hospital patients are going to come out of therapy looking like The Rock on steroids.

Since the cat’s now out of the money bag when it comes to unbridled greed, pretty soon hospitals are likely be looking for even more creative ways to expand their video poker profits.  Just think of the possibilities:  Hospital rooms.  Diagnostic centers.  Ambulances.

[Siren at traffic intersection] Watch out for that ambulance with the flashing red and blue lights!  Ahh, everything’s fine — the guy in back on the stretcher just hit a progressive.

Paging Dr. Bob Dancer.  Paging Dr. Bob Dancer.  Please pick up the white courtesy phone.  Your services are needed in the waiting room immediately!  We need to know — should the patient hold Jacks and Tens on a 9/6 machine?

 

Update and Correction:  At least two articles have appeared on the local press on this subject.  The article in the Las Vegas Sun noted that the video poker machines will not be for cash play, but for amusement only.

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