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Posted by on Jan 26, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Politics, Travel | 1 comment

How You Can Help Save and Protect Red Rock Canyon

 

 

I woke up this morning to the majesty of contrasts that is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, better known simply as “Red Rock Canyon.”  Everything within sight, from the desert cactus to mountain pines, was covered in white snow.

Most Las Vegas visitors, and even many locals, may not know about the natural splendor nestled in the mountains due west of The Strip just a half-hour drive away.  Red Rock is an oasis for the mind and a vacation for the soul.  It seems light years apart from the fabricated latticework of 1.5 million people, continuing to crawl with an alarming expansion beyond the sustainable resources necessary to ensure a healthy balance between what we build and the natural world around it which cradles our city like a protective glove.

Red Rock is a vast “pause button,” ready to be hit any time, a temporary escape to a quiet place still mostly unspoiled by sprawling urbanization, except for a few roads and the occasional traffic sign.  In a city blanketed with casinos, cookie-cutter tract homes, and look-a-like strip malls, Red Rock has become our common escape, even if just for a few fleeting seconds with an affectionate gaze in the westward direction of the snow-capped mountains.  Like a seductive temptress, we long for our next encounter with beauty.

Note:  Here’s a short article I wrote last year about my hike in the canyon, along with several photos. [CLICK HERE]

Sadly, each time I’ve driven into Red Rock in recent years, commercial development looks to be creeping closer and closer to the park.  Now, when driving up Charleston Blvd., which eventually leads directly into the heart of Red Rock Canyon, it’s shocking and sad to see the extent to which homes and shopping centers have stretched to the valley’s outer boundaries and very nearly into the canyon area itself, which is now seriously threatened.  Towards the north, specifically the Lone Mountain area, commercial and industrial development has been even more aggressive.  Lone Mountain was once on the outer fringes of the west side of Las Vegas.  Now, it’s been engulfed by a freeway, thousands of new homes, and a monochrome of dust and blowing debris which seems to swirl around constantly.

South of the Red Rock area, there’s a controversial proposal by developer Jim Rhodes to convert prime land currently occupied by a gypsum mine to construct more than 5,000 additional homes, which is likely to bring in another 10,000 cars and unforeseen disturbances to the area, such as noise and pollution.  A city where air quality is marginal at best and often covered in a thick haze on bad days chokes on its own exhaust fumes.

A few nights ago, a meeting was held here in Las Vegas where many critical issues important to our region were discussed.  I was stirred into action by the presentation of Justin Jones, who’s a board member of the organization known as Save Red Rock.  I learned that this non-profit is fighting to protect one of Las Vega’s last natural resources, not just for us, but for future generations.  Jones stated if we don’t take action now, it might be too late in the future.  He also noted that big-money developers have filed a lawsuit against Save Red Rock, purely in an effort to silence opposition, thus squashing citizen advocacy and democracy.  Fortunately, many people with the local community, Democrats and Republicans alike, are now speaking out and making their voices heard.  But that might not be enough given the power of developers who look towards Red Rock as a potential piggy bank.

We aren’t opposed to responsible development.  Indeed, there are plenty of attractive neighborhoods in our city where new homes can be built and new businesses can be created.  That’s something every community needs to remain vibrant  In fact, many established parts of Las Vegas are desperate for investment of this kind, and even offer generous tax incentives.  So, why allow unbridled expansion into one of the most gorgeous areas of Southern Nevada, when so many other opportunities exist for local development and revitalization?

If you’re interested in learning more, please visit the website SAVEREDROCK.ORG.  There’s also a petition you can sign for an upcoming public hearing with country commissioners (in February), which will show your support for protecting the natural majesty of this critically important and precious public recreation area.  Consider signing the PETITION HERE.

Once Red Rock is gone, it’s lost forever.  We must act now.  Please help and also tell your friends and neighbors.  We need your voice, your signature, your support, and most of all your action.  Please do it now.

 

READ THE FACEBOOK PAGE, with comments, HERE.

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Posted by on Jan 22, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Travel | 7 comments

What Happens When You Lose Your Ticket at Airport Parking?

 

 

Many years ago, I parked my car at New York’s JFK Airport and flew to Europe.  A planned one-week trip rolled into 16 days and by the time I returned to the lot, my parking fee had mushroomed into more than $300 (Note:  I’d arrived late for the flight due to traffic and was forced to park in the closer, more expensive zone).

I wondered to myself back then — what would have happened if I insisted the parking ticket had been lost?  There’s a special line for cars and drivers with lost tickets, but I’ve never challenged the system nor forsaken my obligation to pay what was owed.  Still, I’m naturally curious as to the protocols of how airports know how long you’ve been parked, and what to charge you for a lost parking ticket.

To be more clear for those who are unfamiliar with the issue, most big airports have multiple parking lots.  The closest lots, near the terminal, are always the most expensive.  Parking at Las Vegas McCarran comes to about $4 an hour.  There are even zones with parking meters.  However, Las Vegas also offers satellite lots, which charge up to $9 per day.  However, the satellite parking requires you to take a shuttle bus back and forth.  This adds another 20 minutes or so (each way) to the trip, plus a tip for the driver if you’re carrying bags.

I always park in the discounted parking lot when I travel (unless I’m running late, which happened in New York).  Over the past ten years, I’ve flown perhaps 60-70 times and many of those trips were for weeks at a time.  I’ve paid thousands of dollars parking fees.  However, many times upon exiting, I’ve wondered what would happen if I declared a “lost ticket.”

The math seems to make this a +EV move.  If I’m parked for 10 days, at $9 per day, that’s $90.  But what would happen is I feign confusion, declare my parking stub to be lost, and try and get a cheaper bill?  With thousands of cars parked for varying amounts of time, how would the airport know how long your car has been present?  Would it be possible to insist on a 4-day trip rather than 9 days, thus saving $54?

I’m not advocating that anyone try this.  Furthermore, it’s dishonest.  To me, $9 seems like quite a reasonable fee to pay to park for a day.  However, my experience in New York 20 years ago still bugs me.  Plus, I could really use that $300 that was forked over to the Airport Authority.

Has anyone ever challenged their parking time?  Has anyone ever successfully shaved a few days off the fee by declaring a “lost ticket?”  I’m specifically referring to airports where there is no maximum.  I realize a lost ticket at some lots requires the driver to pay the max.  What about long-stay parking lots?

I’d like to hear stories, which can be posted here or on Facebook.

 

READ DISCUSSION HERE.

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Posted by on May 24, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | 32 comments

Beer

 

beer

 

Last night, I attended a local beer tasting here in Las Vegas.

I’m not really much of a beer guy.  Oh yeah, I went through that childish phase some time ago.  Okay, the childish phase lasted two decades.  Maybe three.  I admit it — I used to love my beer.  I still do.  But, the truth is, I can’t slam down cold pints of golden brew like I used to, because it makes me fat as all fuck.

Okay, fatter.

Screw you people for confronting me with the truth.

I have a lopsided love-hate relationship with beer.  I love it.  I love it.  I love it.  But, it hates me.  Beer makes me bloat like a puff fish.  After I drink 3 or 4 or 12 beers, I feel like a beached whale.  I’m Tony Montana all powdered up like a coke fiend drunk on his own supply.  Let me tell you something.  It’s embarrassing as shit when you have to poke a screwdriver into your leather belt to punch one more notch so your pants will stay up instead of drooping down to your ankles.  The beer-drinking fatties will likely get that reference.  We all done that, haven’t we?  The rest of you — please carry on.

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Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Blog, Essays, General Poker, Personal, Politics, Travel | 0 comments

Daniel Negreanu’s Romania Now vs. My Romania Then

 

Nolan Dalla 1990 Bucharest Romania

 

Daniel Negreanu played in a big poker tournament last week, which was on the Eureka Poker Tour.

Such a occurrence normally wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary.  This is especially true for Daniel — who travels all over the world playing poker and speaking out as the game’s premier ambassador.  The news from Europe probably wouldn’t have caught my attention at all, except for one rather significant fact.

The poker tournament was held in Bucharest, Romania — a fascinating city where Daniel and I share some common bonds and a very different set of roots.  I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that, in contrasting ways, Romania was and shall always be an impressionable part of our lives.  To some degree, that faraway place in Eastern Europe made us into what we are today.

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Posted by on Apr 17, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | 0 comments

The Words and Wisdom of Jonathan Gold

 

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The Words and Wisdom of Jonathan Gold (a.k.a. food critic of the Los Angeles Times)

A food writer reveals the local ethnic restaurant isn’t just a cozy place to eat; for millions of new immigrants, it’s the modern-day highway to the new American dream and a reflection of who we are

 

If sprawling boulevards lined with ethnic restaurants up and down the sidewalk define the cultural boundaries of our greatest cities, then food writing and the art of criticism have become our culinary cartography.

In Los Angeles, one of the world’s undisputed food capitals, that makes restaurant critic Jonathan Gold the city’s Ferdinand Magellen.  Voyaging atop his exploratory palate and innate gift for empathy, and later persuaded by the scribe of his fondest recommendations and “Best of….” lists, when we read Gold’s words we’re taken on a circumnavigation around the globe, sometimes without ever leaving the same zip code.

Within this seemingly endless urban checkerboard of combustible cultures, a city where where a fabulous new Korean restaurant is typically be wedged in between a Dunkin Doughnuts and a Dollar Store, distances in and around Los Angeles aren’t measured in miles.  Distances are measured by time — as in the amount of time if takes to drive from one place to another.  Even a seemingly short drive of just a couple of miles can take an hour or more during the busiest time of day, and in LA, at whatever the hour, it always seems to be the busiest time of day.  This fact of daily life and living has made the automobile here, more than in any other city, the extension of one’s personality and an advertorial moxie.

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