Bald Tony

Bald Tony

Vegas’s Spring Mountain Banshee & Hugh Hefner’s Ghost


Las Vegas, NVI knew being Zano-free couldn’t last forever, but I did enjoy my peaceful six month stretch. When the inevitable phone call came, he wanted to know the location of our next Vegas-style ghost investigation. For some reason Zano feels it’s my responsibility to arrange these “important” endeavors. As if living in Las Vegas for the last 19 years and being a cab driver somehow makes me some kind of Las Vegas authority. Hmmm, maybe he has a point. I’d wanted to visit Spring Mountain Ranch State Park for some time and, bingo! There be ghosts in them there hills!

Of course, we are now banned from them there hills…

Rhyolite Nevada: a Place That Makes Other Ghost Towns Seem Bustling

Bald Tony

For several months Mick and I were planning a trip to Great Basin National Park.  Alex Bone thought this was kind of funny.  You see, Alex is a true outdoorsman, a throwback to another century, a man’s man who makes Grizzly Adams look like Martha Stewart.  Alex’s advice was to stay on the marked trails while wearing bright clothing and warned us about entering the back country.  Fine with me.  While I actually like spending time outdoors, my idea of roughing it is staying at Bellagio when the Aria is booked.

Two days before we were scheduled to drive to GBNP I checked the weather.  I shook my head in confusion, cleared the screen, and this time carefully input the correct destination.  The forecast was still the same.  High of 36, low of 22 with a steady snowfall throughout the day. It might be germane to inform everyone at this point we’re talking about the third week in May.  All those YouTube videos of the park were apparently filmed between July 10th and August 10th.  

As much as I love Las Vegas, I really wanted to get away on my vacation. So we headed to Tonopah for a ghost investigation, here, and then Mick suggested Yosemite. As we started to climb the road toward Mono Lake, however, it started snowing.  Mick asked, “Where the hell can we warm up in the desert?” Freezing to death in the Nevada desert during the third week of May seemed a tad ludicrous to both us.  I said Death Valley National Park sounded like a good place to warm our feet. Heck, it had to be warmer than 22 or even 36.  While consulting a map—yes, a real paper map of the AAA variety can never be refolded properly by even the most adept origami guru. Anyway, we noticed the ghost town of Rhyolite, NV is adjacent to the eastern edge of DVNP.  We had never been there, but being a Nevadan for 18 years I am familiar with the lore of this long abandoned municipality.

Rhyolite Nevada: A Place that Makes Other Ghost Towns Seem Bustling

Rhyolite is a true ghost town.  Not a small town with a low population, not a touristy, manmade-to-look-old-and-abandoned town, but an actual bonafide, no-living-soul-has-resided-there-in-a-century, ghost town. There are no services or businesses of any kind.  Rhyolite had a short life span, 1904-1920, and its decline quickly accelerated in 1911. So, essentially, it only had seven good years, which Zano reminded me is six more than he’s had. That could be why there’s a feeling of, if not anger, at least frustration, in them there Bullfrog Hills.

So Mick and I are somewhat adventurous being in a real ghost town, yet safely within a ten minute drive of gas, food, and lodging in the small town of Beatty, NV.  Bone probably would have walked to Rhyolite after setting up a base camp in DVNP.  Mick and I drove there with the air conditioning on, stopping for snacks and bottled water along the way.  But once the car was parked, we walked more of the site than we drove, which is pretty badass…uh, for us.

Mick and I are both amateur shutterbugs.  Neither of us will be hired by National Geographic, but we enjoy getting out there and seeing what develops as we take photos.  If you’ve read some of my other stories (and if you haven’t, why the hell not?) you know I am old school overall.  In fact the first digital camera I ever owned was purchased shortly before this trip and it’s still confusing me.  Maybe by my 2015 vacation I’ll have it figured out.  Anyway, Rhyolite is a photographer’s paradise.  The abandoned buildings, the rugged scenic backdrop, and while there will be other tourists when you visit, there aren’t so many as to get in your way, and they’re not the photo bombing type.  I was thoroughly enjoying traipsing around “town” taking photos, feeling the cool vibe of the place, and feeling safe and secure in our decision to forego the frigid, artic high Nevada desert.  High plains snow drifter?

 Albert Szukalski’s 1984 version of Da Vinci’s Last Supper

Perhaps the coolest thing in Rhyolite is Albert Szukalski’s 1984 version of Da Vinci’s Last Supper…uh, on acid.  This brings the spooky factor of the place up a notch and, really, the town didn’t need any help in that department.

WARNING Rattlesnakes sign

Cue the WARNING Rattlesnakes sign which, conveniently, the Bureau of Land Management put the Porta Potty right next to. 

[Note: One eyed snake joke omitted by editor.]

While not a haunted ghost town, so far as we could tell, Rhyolite is definitely worth the stop. It brings your typical eccentric abandoned ghost town up to a whole new level. Just leave Zano in the car…with the window rolled down, of course.

HIKE:  A Four Letter Word for a Reason

Bald Tony

Against my better judgment I decided it was time to visit Zano again.  Might have had something to do with the constant “Hey, Bald Tony, I’ve visited you 635 times since you last visited me!”  Well, I do enjoy Flagstaff. It is not as fully loaded as Vegas, but it more than holds its own as a great little tourist town…despite Zano’s residency there.

I am big on “reduce, reuse, recycle,” so I kept the printed directions from my last trip there in 2011.  What could be easier than step-by-step turn-by-turn directions to Zano’s front door?  Unfortunately for me a street name change detoured me into parts unknown.  I called Zano and told him I was at the Flagstaff public library.  I immediately interpreted his silence as confusion.

“We have a library?” he said, finally.  “What else is around you?”

Looking for landmarks Zano would recognize I told him I was across the street from the police station.  “I’ll be there in 5 minutes!”  When we arrived at Chateau de Zano I showed him my directions in an attempt to figure out where I went wrong.  It turns out one of the streets ‘Enterprise’ underwent a name change to ‘Ponderosa’.  Who the hell is naming the streets in Flag?  Some TV Land executive?  If I have an accident do I go to a General Hospital or a M*A*S*H unit?  Besides, shouldn’t civilization be progressing?  ‘Ponderosa’ to ‘Enterprise’?  Is this all part of President Obama’s anti-capitalism initiative?

I like Mick.  Strange but true.  And as such I feel the need to tell my friend when he is de-evolving.  As I get older I notice many in my age group start using presidential administrations as reference points.  “My daughter was born during Bush 41.”  “I dated her in the early Reagan Years” etc…  Mick and I were both born during the Lyndon Johnson administration, but the last few times I’ve seen Mick he looks more like someone from Andrew Johnson’s administration.   As such, I decided a good activity would be a hike.  Both Mick and Cokie McGrath—version six or seven, not exactly sure as Zano burns through them rather quickly—espouse the hiking opportunities in the area.  Now I am no athlete, but I can certainly manage a moderate hike now and again.  Moderate at least by President William Howard Taft standards.

William Howard Taft

I have walked from the Stratosphere to Caesar’s with only two stops along the way (while trying to hail a cab the entire trip, Zano reminds me).  Now Cokie is in shape.  It helps when you exercise like a fiend and are ridiculously young.  How young?  Well, she was Born in the U.S.A. when that song was topping the charts, aka, during the Reagan administration.  So between her youth and fitness it’s fair to say during the hike…(superior posterior joke omitted by the editor).

We decided a hike at Fat Man’s Loop (FML) would be the best option. I hoped FML would not cause me to use my FMLA. Actually, I was a bit insulted, since it sounded like the hiking equivalent of skiing the bunny slope, but both Zano and McGrath insisted Flagstaff’s higher elevation would be challenging for me.  Uh oh.  I had not considered that.  So, off to loop the fat man we went.  When we arrived I saw a sign – “Fat Man’s Loop” 0.2 miles.  I thought “Great, this will not be so tough.”  We all did some light warm ups, which for Zano involved microbrews, and started the hike.  Right away I knew I was in trouble.  The hikes I’ve done in and around the Las Vegas valley have mainly been on flat land at sea level with intermittent benches and water fountains (manly hikes), aka, nothing like this.  Now we were in the mountains, and ascending.  It did not take long for me to start huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf, aka, I felt like someone born during the Roosevelt administration (Teddy’s….even if I wasn’t exactly charging up San Juan Hill).

And no one took my suggestion of setting up a base camp seriously.

If I die here my last question would be, how in God’s name was 0.2 miles taking so long?  We’d been hiking for what seemed like days.  Even Zano, who wore sandals while I wore sneakers, was far and away ahead of me.  Do I say I have to pee? Do I scream SNAKE! Do I pretend I twisted my ankle? I got it!

“Wait up! While I was peeing a snake bit my ankle!” I was about to scream.

Before I could put my plan into action, mercifully a ledge, or a log, or something of substance appeared in the rocky terrain, so I plopped down like The Ghetto Shaman on a bar stool.  Barely winded, Zano and McGrath stood over me like disapproving parents who just caught their 15 year old in the liquor cabinet.   How was this possible?  With Cokie I understood, but Zano? He had personally added at least four more deadly sins to the original seven, because—as he put it—my sins go to 11! He can’t touch his toes these days!  How was he hiking circles around me, while wearing inferior footwear?  To add insult to injury, once I got going again I lost my footing at one point, something neither of them did the entire hike.  And again, why was this hike taking so looooooooong?  I am no cartographer, but this was the equivalent of many leagues if we were sailing (or bowling, for that matter). 

They guesstimated we were over halfway done. 

Half? I thought. How had we only traveled 0.1 miles?

“Why don’t we have hiking sticks, and hiking boots, and protein bars, and canteens of water, and canisters of oxygen…?”   I screamed, you screamed, we all screamed for…well, I just screamed for the vehicle at this point.

“Because it’s Fat Man’s Loop!” came the unsympathetic response.  Zano later admitted this had actually been the first time McGrath had not coaxed him part or all the way up the actual mountain attached to this trail.

Now I’ve heard some pleasant sounds while enjoying the natural beauty of North America, and I assure you Zano and McGrath screaming the same words at the same time after what seemed like a marathon is one of the most frightening sounds any human ears have ever endured.

Finally the ascent stopped and the descent started.  On the way down we passed hikers who were professionally outfitted, with all the aforementioned gear.

“Why do they have all that stuff and we don’t?”  I begged of them.

“They’re going on a real hike up to Mount Elden.  It would cripple or kill you…apparently, even if you looked mistakenly toward it,” said McGrath.

Exasperated, I finally asked, “Haven’t we been hiking a lot more than 0.2 miles?” 

They both looked at me like I farted in church (pew joke omitted).

 “Why do you think this hike is 0.2 miles?” they asked in unison.

“Because the sign at the beginning of the trail said so.” 

Fat Man's Loop

They burst into simultaneous laughter informing me the sign was showing the distance to from the parking lot to the trailhead, not the distance of the hike itself. 

(The below passage is to be read like Samuel L. Jackson’s, “Get these mother &^%ing snakes off this mother &^%ing plane!)

“Well how mother*&^$ing long is this mother &^%$ing hike!”  I cried. 

By the time we returned to the car a week later my feelings toward Cokie had changed dramatically.  I was still impressed with her, but I wasn’t exactly a huge fan anymore.  A week or so later I sent her this link of a place I frequently hike, just a few miles from my home. 

She responded “ROTFLMAO!  That’s not a hike.  That’s barely a stroll.”

On a side note, back in the days when I had connections in both the broadcasting and professional wrestling world, I was able to get an advance copy of the BBC documentary GAEA Girls.  This is a fascinating in-depth look into just how tough pro wrestling can be, and just how rigid Japanese culture and discipline can be.  Even if you don’t want to watch the entire documentary, and I recommend everyone do indeed watch it, please go to 3:20-3:45 of this clip to see my YouTube wish list for you, Cokie. Just to be clear, Miss McGrath, I envision you as the woman in the blue shorts and black shirt.

I was happy to have survived the ordeal. Since something called Fat Man’s Loop was too arduous, the next time those two want me to go hiking I’m going to suggest heading over to the paraplegic pass or maybe the flat part of granny’s gulch.

Now get out there and stretch those legs! …but read the trail signs carefully, the pride you save may be your own.

Chinatown Vegas: You Go Now!

Bald Tony

Not many folks realize there is a Chinatown in Las Vegas. In fact, I was a local for nearly five years before I even found it…and it’s huge! I moved here in the year of the rabbit and didn’t find Chinatown until the year of the flipping ox. You see, Las Vegas Blvd runs north-south, dividing the city east-west, and I have always been an eastsider. Among locals, crossing LVB to go to the other side, whichever side that is, is generally considered unnecessary, stupid, and in some cases criminal.

Sin City’s homage to the Far East lies a couple miles west of Treasure Island, and while there are many amazing Asian restaurants and women on the Strip, it is worth the rickshaw ride to this Oriental oasis. This is a very authentic area as Mick Zano and I are typically the only round eyed English-speaking patrons (REESPs) in any given establishment. My goal is to visit every restaurant, tea house, sake joint, and massage parlor in Chinatown. So far I’ve been to three…actually, I’ve been to about fifteen. I keep setting out for a new place and I usually end up at Little Saigon. It’s like a tempura-flavored Twilight Zone episode. On a cold desert day, when the temperature plummets to the eighties, there’s nothing better than a big bowl of Pho. While Little Saigon is our favorite Pho place, we did try a different place, BOSA 1, for other Vietnamese cuisine, and were thrilled with our #12s, mine with noodles and Zano’s with rice.

Mmmm refuse...

We’re new to this reviewing food thing, so we forgot to take the picture before we ate. Mmmm refuse.  On an unrelated note, look for our joint business venture, a combination Pho house and billiard hall named…wait for it…PhoCue.

About one mile east of the now shuttered Sahara Hotel & Casino, nowhere near Chinatown, is arguably the best Thai place this side of Bangkok, Lotus of Siam. Zano loves the place. I’ve never seen anyone actually get drunk from Drunken Noodles before, but leave it to Mick. It’s really a shame he’s not allowed back.


There’s also Cathay House restaurant in Chinatown. The place is so good it was starting to cut into the profits over at The Palms Hotel & Casino as numerous patrons would brave the $10 cab fare to head Cathayward, even though there are several restaurants in The Palms, including the Asian fusion and sushi place, Little Buddha. Palms owner, George Maloof, finally decided enough is enough and had the folks from the Cathay House build a second Cathay House in The Palms 24/7 coffee shop. Yes, it is a restaurant within a restaurant, like a fortune in a cookie. HHe even managed to shanghai some of the Cathay House employees as well. I guess You Stay Now! is his variation of my joke. I approve, by the way, because this place is dim-sum kind of wonderful!

Believe it or not, there’s also a vegan donut shop in Chinatown, Ronald’s Donuts. Somewhere between Sapporo beers and happy ending massages, Zano and I were not in the market for donuts, but vegan? We had to try. They were quite good, and healthy….well, healthier. We even met Ronald, and we’re pretty sure Ronald is not Ronalds’ birth name.

On a semi-related note, I went to a reflexology spa in Chinatown that greatly relaxed me. This massage practice relieves a lot of tension and stress (great after a Zano visit). These places allegedly can help to rejuvenate any given organ/body part through a hand manipulation technique applied to your feet. This ties in nicely with one of my fetishes, two if you count the cute Oriental reflexologist. I tipped her well.

The most important thing to know about Chinatown is they have their own SPAM (Specially Prepared Asian Meat). This is also great in sushi…well, sushi you want to use to purge your system.

Chinese SPAM (Specially Prepared Asian Meat)

I love the food in Chinatown but I am often taken aback, sometimes literally, by the low tide smell that greets my nostrils at all of the area international food markets.

One of the few skills Zano is superior to me is chopstick use. I have two left thumbs which makes me chopstick challenged. In fact, I would need a dozen promotions to get to be an idiot with chopsticks. Does anyone have a copy of Chopsticks for Dummies you can lend me? Thankfully, the restaurants in Chinatown realize there are many with the same affliction, and provide silverware. I feel like I’m riding a bike with training wheels when I use silverware at Kung Fu Plaza, but I’d rather feel that way than not eat there. Good thing they’re open 24 hours since it took a week for me to finish my soup with a fork.

Many places in Chinatown are old world and only accept cash, so don’t bring Mick I-left-my-wallet-at-McMullan’s Zano. In fact, let us never speak of him again.


Vegas San Gennaro: Leave the Feast, Take the Cannoli

Bald Tony

Mick Zano was supposed to come for *sigh* yet another visit earlier this month.  Due to circumstances beyond his control he had to delay a week.  Unfortunately I was working overtime, so it looked like things were going to be a bust.  Then, being the good friend and inadequate employee I am, I timed Zano’s visit with a three day suspension.  Whoo Hoo!  So, to be clear, I would not be getting paid for three days AND spending extra money.   Dave Ramsey would not be pleased.

I have enjoyed going to different festivals around town, and attended the San Gennaro Feast several times.  I missed it this May, but September was going to be a lock, especially since it had moved to a more central valley location, the Rio Hotel & Casino.

So there we were, two yutes—well, compared to The Crank—looking for My Cousin Guinea. The SGF is five days long, and I usually go during the week and at night to avoid the huge crowds and daytime heat.   With Zano in tow I broke both of those commandments and went on a blistering sunny Saturday just as the gates opened.  Five minutes later I realized my mistake when Zano proclaimed, “What have carnies done to my Italian grandmother?!”  

San Gennaro Feast

It all went downhill from there.  I should have known better than to bring an Italian guy who only wanted to get to the next Irish pub.

He immediately started with his infamous Longuyland kvetching, “I’ve been to the real San Gennaro Feast in the real Little Italy, and it’s twice as big, twice as many days, no cover charge, more food and drink, yada, yada, yada.” 

I hate to admit when Zano is right, but he had a point.  The first three food dishes we ordered “weren’t ready yet.”  And we did not enter the Feast and run to the food vendors.  We scoped the action for an hour before turning our stomachs foodward.

San Gennaro No Feast

Mmmm, not prepared yet

Did the vendors think people would not eat before noon?  Another disappointment was the lack of entertainment.  At night, there are street performers and musicians roaming the Feast.  During the day it was Rio security and Las Vegas police, which made Zano twitchier than a paranoid schizophrenic on meth (especially with the strip club limo incident fresh in his mind).

We said arrivederci to the SGF barely two hours after entering, by far the least amount of time I have ever spent there.  In order to have at least one authentic Italian experience, I knocked out Zano and stuffed his carcass in the trunk on the way to our next destination.   Instead of drinking with the Irish, he’ll be sleeping with the fishes. 

Next week is the Greek Food Festival.  OPA!  The week after that is the Asian Food Festival. The next week is the Renaissance Festival.  I don’t plan on letting Zano out of the trunk before then.  Actually I think I’ll just leave him at McMullan’s next time.   Oh wait, he’s persona non grata there.  Well, I guess I could leave him at an Irish pub where he’s welcome.  Hmmmm, good thing I have several months to find one.

Another One Bites the Dust

Another One Bites the Dust
Bald Tony

After reluctantly accepting some forms of technology, it looks like another of my old school habits will soon be gone. To put this tale into context, I still own one of those tripod cameras with the dark cloak you throw over your head.  OK, maybe not.  But I bought some 35mm film recently, which was pretty easy and inexpensive, but getting it developed…not so much.

The photos for this Discord classic will most likely be the last 35mm photos I take.  When I went back to the drugstore where I bought the film, I was informed they no longer develop film. “But I bought the film here yesterday” I logically pointed out. As if saying this out loud would somehow bring film developing immediately back to the store. The clerk again politely informed me the store no longer developed film. I looked at her as if to say, “but, but, but I bought the film here yesterday.” She looked at me as if to say “you bought your toilet paper here too, but we didn’t follow you home and wipe your ass.”

Realizing I would not get the film developed in the store I bought the film from, I did what any person my age should do, I went on a killing spree.  Actually, on the way home I looked for a Fotomat booth.  Remember them?  Well, there aren’t any.  I went home, put on my reading glasses, opened the phone book, took the receiver off the hook, listened for the dial tone, and rotarily called several places until I found one that still developed film. As it turns out, getting one roll of film developed was more expensive than buying a four pack of film from the first place! So that’s that.  I can no longer fight the film fight. I have several other expenses/bills first, but soon, as much as it pains me to say it, I will be purchasing my first dig-i-tal camera.

I certainly understand the selling points of such a technological monstrosity: Photos can be seen instantly, even quicker than a Polaroid.  You never run out of film or have to change rolls at an inopportune time, and with email, Flickr, Facebook, etc… photos can be shared with many people all over the globe within minutes of taking them—which really came in handy when Zano passed out during his last Vegas trip.  And while those are all good things, I suppose (except the Zano part), it takes away one of my favorite feelings (and a good Carly Simon song) Anticipation. Some of you may be too young to remember what it was like drop off a roll of film, and call the store or Fotomat a few days later to see if your memories were back yet. Pictures may fade a bit but they last forever (assuming you do not lose them), and I do not think waiting a few days for eternal memories is a big deal.

I also had pen pals way back when: Sonja in OR, Barbara in TX, Charlie and Karen in different parts of PA, and some others whose memories have faded like an old photograph. I remember that feeling in my gut as the school day drew to a close, wondering if I would have mail, actual envelopes with stamps and postmarks on them, with handwritten ink notes on paper inside, delivered by a human being. If I had letters, great! If not, something to look forward to for the next day.

When the Zanos visited me Easter weekend I needed someone more mature than Mick to have a conversation with, so I talked with his 11-year old. I am not sure how the topic came up, but I was explaining to her how phones were not always portable, households used to share one phone number (and often one phone), and going further back, several houses on one block used to share a phone and number. She certainly has mastered her father’s blank clueless stare. Then I told her about busy signals and not being able to leave a voice message. She looked at me as if I was reading a fairy tale.

“You are making that up!” she insisted.

When the Zanos and I got separated for a few minutes on the Strip she texted me. When we found each other and I told her I do not have texting, she looked at me in a confused gross amazement. I would describe it as the way a vegan would look during a backstage tour of a butcher shop. Oh, and we did that later in the day.

Oh, and if your phone is so smart, why does it not tell you the text did not go through?

When I set my VCR to tape a show as the Zanos and I went out, she laughed. Excuse me, she LOL’d, or more grammatically correctly, L’dOL (Remember grammar? Whatever happened to grammar?). She has a fleeting memory of VCRs. At least mine is VHS. If you do not know what BETA is, Goggle it (yes, back in my day it was called Goggle).  And try explaining what it was like not being able to tape/record a show to someone born in this millennium.

I still have a cassette player in my car, complete with The Big Chill soundtrack forever embedded in it. Zano points this out every time he visits, usually accompanied by some snide ass remark. Zano’s daughter held the dingy white cassette tape like a museum curator might hold a shard of some 3rd Dynasty Egyptian pottery. I was going to explain how cassette players are more advanced than eight track players, but you have to choose your battles. Anyone else remember waiting thru five lousy songs to get to the one you really wanted to hear? Back then, it was not a hardship. Anticipation…

I actually have a computer, probably not as advanced as yours, but at least I have one. And one of my favorite sites on the interwebs is The You of Tubes. I have no idea how to put anything on there, nor do I want to. I use it for listening to old songs like Peter Frampton’s Show Me the Way, which I believe is about programming one’s DVR. There were plenty of beautiful women in the 2000s, but I still hold a special place in my heart for Peggy Lipton, Barbara Eden, Farrah Fawcett, Catherine Bach, et al, and their images are all over YouTube. In fact, I dream of Barbra Eden.  If you laughed at that one, you’re officially an old fart.  Two fairly modern songs I recommend people listen to on YouTube, or Ithingies, or PMS players, or whatever gizmos you have—which will be obsolete this time next month—are Tim McGraw’s Back When and Mark Wills’ 19 Somethin’. I also watch a lot of pre 1984 pro-wrestling there, as I much prefer it to the post 1984 product. Why and how the product changed is not Discord material, but trust me, it is like the difference between the PGA and mini golf.

Everything these days is instant this and automatic that. The whole world is all orgasm and no foreplay. While I am certainly pro orgasm, a big part of me still thinks that sucks, but not in a good way.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to return to my Viewmaster Land of the Lost, reel 3.

And now for Something Completely Celtic

Bald Tony

(For full effect please read in a good Sean Connery voice, or a lousy Mel Gibson voice.) Many people think Las Vegas is just hookers, Cirque du Soleil, casinos, and all-you-can-eat buffets. Sure, those things are thankfully prevalent, but there are also many festivals in the Las Vegas Valley (and on any given weekend Zano has been thrown out of most of them). I have attended the San Genarro Festival several times, the Greek Festival VII times, and I especially enjoyed getting leid multiple times at the Aloha Festival. But until a couple of weeks ago I had always missed the Celtic Gathering & Highland Games.

This annual gathering celebrates Scottish, Irish, and English tradition over two days, in the spectacular cloudless 90°, regionally apropos, Mojave Desert. The event is held at Floyd Lamb State Park at Tule Springs, one of the few natural areas I had yet to visit in my nearly 15 years here. The park has quite the history and could make for another Discord article on its own, but since the Discord does not pay well (at all), and has lousy co-workers (see contributor list), I simply recommend researching the place when you have the time.

Many Celtic festival attendees dress in traditional garb, just like you would see at any Renaissance Festival, and yes, I have attended the LV Renn Fest as well, but I opted for sneakers, jean shorts, and a T-Shirt. I would say my kilt wearing days are behind me, but I I never actually had any kilt wearing days. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Walking the festival is not a huge deal, but can take the whole day as there is so much to see. There are dozens of vendors selling everything from Celtic clothing to Celtic literature to Celtic cookies, and each of those vendors is a different “clan”. For example Clan Shaman would sell Celtic medical marijuana, Clan Bone would sell Celtic crawdads…you get the idea. There are several Celtic musical acts as well, and I now have a new favorite band name – The Wicked Tinkers! There is also an abundance of food, both the Celtic kind and regular American fair fare. One of the more impressive was the ice cream booth because the ice cream was made the Olde World method, by throwing a snowball at the face of a person eating candy. In this case, the ice cream was created by a steam powered John Deere contraption from the early 20th century. My diet has changed a bit since my visit here, so I opted for the veggie burger and lemonade. That was a good choice as the lass who took my order was right out of Celtic Maxim. Another highlight is the heavy athletic competitions. The Scots had to be drunk to invent these games!

For any given event, at this fine fest, you will find Highlander and Braveheart emasculating one another. Let the games begin:

The Horn of Boromir
The Horn of Boromir

Unfortunately shortly after the above picture was taken, the horn blower was riddled with orc arrows and collapsed in a pool of his own blood.

Bagpipers belting out Amazing Grace

Above picture depicts several bagpipers belting out Amazing Grace, while on the far side of the field a replica of Spock’s coffin was shot into space.

All types of surreal food items and Scottish delicacies

Here in the above picture we see all types of surreal food items and Scottish delicacies. Yes, that is an oxymoron. Notice there is Haggis, marinated for your enjoyment. And I thought only Dumbledore died in the Harry Potter series.

Zano and the Shaman people were well represented

Despite the fact the Zano and the Shaman did not make this trip, their people were well represented.

A manly Celtic game

And here we see a manly Celtic game wherein the participant must tear off the hook arm of Captain Hook, hurl it into the air and catch it with the tip of his penis. Also, notice the other game in background wherein the participant holds a telephone pole to his crotch with the hopes of running up behind the hook thrower and stealing his glory. In the ancient version the opponent had to catch the telephone pole with the tip of his penis.

The event is two days long in order to accommodate as many people as possible, though one day is sufficient to see everything. If you are in Zano territory there will be another one soon, and I pray Zano’s kilt wearing days are really behind him, not that there’s…. in this case there really is something wrong with that.

If you go you will have a wonderful time, just remember not to drive home on the left side of the road. Luckily Nationwide is on my side…whatever side of the road that may be.

The First Rule of Pizza Club Is Don’t Talk About Pizza Club

Bald Tony

Las Vegas, NV—Just a few short weeks ago, the Cosmopolitan opened on the Las Vegas Strip, and, of course, the Discord was there to cover it. Of all the neat and wonderful things to discover and enjoy in this newest Strip casino, the biggest surprise turned out to be the pizza place. I have been sworn not to tell anyone where it is. It has no name. Seriously…think of it as the world’s first speakcheesy. No, they’re not allowed to use that line.

Bald Tony enjoys a secret slice

It’s not listed on any of the hotel directory maps nor is it mentioned anywhere on the website, and the powers that be are very serious about not telling anyone where in the Cosmopolitan this little slice of New York resides. It’s already hailed as one of Vegas’ finest slices. All I can tell you is it’s located somewhere between the first floor casino and the rooftop pool. And it’s not just any pizza joint; it’s perhaps the best pizza this side of the Bellagio (an impressive several hundred yards away).

Mick Zano and I started the pizza hunt on the first floor, going from place to place, moving only by sense of smell. We did find it, eventually, on an undisclosed floor in said hotel casino. On the way inside, I made the mistake of telling Zano about how no one is allowed to tell anyone where this place is. Never do this.

A security guard came right over and said, very seriously, “Sir, we have a security breach and I’m going to need to ask you a few questions: why are you telling this man how to find this place and How are we going to keep this a secret if you tell people about it right in front of the place?”

The hotel guard was originally a New Yorker himself. He doesn’t work at the pizza place, but he already loves it. He then made Zano swear not to say anything to anyone about this establishment’s whereabouts. Zano, who can lie through his teeth with the best of them, said “sure.”

You may be wondering why Zano is already back in Vegas. You see, he decided to take this 28 day meditation/detox challenge thing, and where else would one want to kick off a quest toward spiritual harmony and cleansing than Las Vegas? I think Las Vegas is Spanish for The Enlightened Gambler. Did I mention Zano’s an idiot? I think, in retrospect, he’s going to need to detox from his first detox weekend.

The secret entrance to the Cosmopolitan's secret pizzaria

After the guard walked away, Zano snapped this shot of the entrance. If you notice there is no name and no sign. The squares you see lining the entranceway are a variety of album covers. I can now honestly say I’ve been to a pizzeria in the desert with no name.

The pizza gets solid marks, the dough definitely wins as New York style. Zano, another once and future New Yorker, agreed. He had a little problem with cheese to sauce ratio, but otherwise gave it a thumbs up as well.

Through hard hitting investigative journalism, I uncovered a secret of the secret pizza shop. They mix sourdough from San Francisco—which, yes, costs a lot of dough—with their own east coast dough. Of course, the exact ratio is on par with the Colonel’s secret recipe and then just rinse, lather, repeat and voila, New York style pizza in the Mojave desert.

Oh, and the pizza boxes are like the Beatle’s White Album, no hints there. I will consider letting people in on the secret location, for a price…

The roof pool at the Cosmopolitan Casino in Las Vegas

As for the rest of the resort, it was more Mick Zano’s type of place, especially the roof top pool area which has pool tables, ping pong, and plenty places to lounge—not every space devoted to separating you from your money. You could order a drink, plug in a laptop, and chill by the pool. It didn’t hurt having bikini clad babes frolicking in January. The place is unlike any other resort in Vegas because activities other than gambling are encouraged…even (gasp) outdoor areas! This place is making a statement: we fucking do things differently here at the Cosmopolitan. Coincidentally, this is how all the help greets you as you enter.

Flagstaff’s Big Red Poor

Bald Tony

I figured, Zano’s been up to see me in Vegas 5 times now, it was fine time to go see him.  Never do this.  He arbitrarily picks a weekend, and leave it to Zano to be completely oblivious about it being one of Flagstaff’s biggest event weekends.  Driving into town was worse than going from Caesar’s to Mandalay Bay on a Saturday night. Geesh! And I wasn’t even getting paid!  I think a 10 to 1 Vegas-to-Flagstaff visiting ratio from now on, Mikko.

The Arizona Cardinals big scrimmage was this weekend, we both hate football, but the Big Red Pour was a beer and music festival right in downtown Flag in honor of the happy pigskin event.  And we do like beer.  Besides, Vegas was about 35 degrees hotter and for that kind of relief I’d even put up with Zano’s company.  Mick’s brother-in-law, MJ, was in town for the festivities, so when he arrived, we took to the streets of Flag. The town blew me away.  It was the monthly First Friday Art Walk, the AZ Cardinals were in town, and there was a music brew fest, all within a couple of blocks. Guitar and bongo players on every corner and an umpa band outside the German restaurant.  Wow!  Two hotel bars, three brewpubs, two Irish pubs, and one very intoxicated Partridge in a fermented Pear Tree. We hit em’ all.  And the Weatherford Hotel has the most amazing old hotel bar I have ever seen, and I’m from Vegas, baby!  It features the Zane Grey saloon, an old ornate western bar shipped in from Tombstone, complete with a wraparound third floor balcony. And if that weren’t enough, free popcorn!  Apparently, this is where Zano, Fenski, and Alex Bone meet each week both to the delight and horror of Discord fans everywhere.

MJ and Mick told me a story about getting kicked out of there one night, by throwing legions of coasters up into the chandeliers and harassing the help.  Back in the lobby, they met the perfect foil.

Mick walked up to the manager and asked, “If we’re thrown out of the Zane Grey, does that mean we’re thrown out of Charley’s?  (The Weathford’s downstairs bar).

He of course, said, “Yes!”

So, arm in arm, they walked back up the stairs to the Zane Grey.

“Where are you going?”

“You said we were kicked out of Charley’s?”

This went on for several minutes.  The manager/foil managed to keep saying the perfect line, sending MJ and Mick, not out onto the street but, rather, walking past him between the two bars to the backdrop of the manager’s increasingly bulging neck veins.

At the brew fest, the Big Red Snore, we paid 10 bucks each at the door and twelve more for 10 four oz pours.  They had everything ranging from crappy light beers to crappy pale ales.  Honorable mention to Shiner Bock dark lager.  Yes, it was that bad.

A drunk woman accosted me for beer coupons, and then said, “Sorry, I’m obnoxious.”

I said, “Hi obnoxious.  Nice to meet you.  I’m apathetic.”

Dustin, a brewer at Four Peaks, one of the better breweries in AZ, was there.  Mick and MJ proceeded to wow him with their Beer Geek Speak (BGS) for what seemed an eternity, while I chatted up Enya, a cute Australian exchange student.  MJ and Mick then butted in and ruined my moment:

MJ: So where are you going after the fest?

Enya: Back to my place to sleep.

Zano: OK, if you insist.

The music was pretty good, but with three pints in us, 4 oz times ten, we headed out for adventure.  Overall, Flag really rocked that night. It has a kind of a hippy, animal friendly feel to the place (which is why Zano is tolerated). And one coffee shop is better than the next.  Funny thing, but Mick seemed to know all the bartenders and police officers…imagine that.

We skipped the second day of the brew fest due to our ailing livers.  We are not 21 anymore, even though we act like it sometimes.  Day two, we drank chamomile tea, coffee, and ate stomach friendly foods.  But we’re heading to a party now and tomorrow it’s hiking in Sedona, so I guess there’s little left in the tank.

The Heart Attack Grill Charged with Assisted Suicide: No Charge, Cash Only

The Heart Attack Grill Charged with Assisted Suicide: No Charge Cash Only
Bald Tony

With the spring breakers getting on my nerves, and the International Meeting of Procrastinators (IMP) postponed yet again, late March seemed as good a time as any to take a break from transporting strangers around in a Las Vegas taxi. So, I drove two of my friends to Phoenix for WrestleMania 26, or WrestleMania XXVI as it was known in Roman times. Even though I’m a much bigger fan of old school pro-wrestling than today’s version, WM is still a damn fun event.  Besides, I’ve lived in Las Vegas almost 14 years and had yet to make it to Phoenix. It only seems fair I should spend some money there, since so many Phoenicians tip me on a daily basis.

I also thought it would be kind of fun seeing one of my favorite lady wrestlers, Beth Phoenix, actually wrestle in Phoenix. Technically WM was in Glendale, AZ, and I have a strong suspicion Phoenix is not Beth’s real last name. She’s actually a Buffalo native with the last name Schmurgeldorfer or some such.

As an added bonus, Phoenix is just a couple hours away from Zano’s place, and he has family in Phoenix, so I can see him without actually having him stay with me (always a plus). I still have some fear when Zano visits that he won’t ever leave.  His “Couch Trip” in the mid-nineties still gives me and several other Discordians considerable angst.  WM is a huge event and is planned well in advance. I am talking about booking the venue…did you think I meant something else? Know this…life is an illusion, but professional wrestling is real. 

I gave Zano 13 months notice, yet he still never made it. I would like to point out I met fans from Australia, Egypt, and Japan over WM weekend, and Zano couldn’t make the 90 mile journey. I turn 50 in November 2016. I think if I tell Zano now, send monthly reminders for the next six and a half years and have the party at his place, there’s a better than 50% chance he will make it.

I have watched pro-wrestling for nearly 30 years now, and have heard tons of wrestlers announced as “hailing from parts unknown.” I never really gave it much thought, but now I believe ‘parts unknown’ pertains to somewhere south of the Hoover Dam and west of the Phoenix suburbs.

One of the joys of road trips is eating at new and unusual places.  On the menu tonight was The Heart Attack Grill in Chandler, AZ. Written in big red letters on the front door are the words: THIS PLACE IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH. On the sneeze guard above the bottomless Flatliner Fries is written: DEEP FRIED IN PURE LARD.  No doubt, for your arterial-clogging enjoyment. One of the first things you will see when you pull into the parking lot is an ambulance parked near the front door. Upon arrival, you are pleasantly greeted by hot female waitresses wearing short tight nurses’ outfits. A hospital-like wristband that reads “I had a bypass at the Heart Attack Grill” is strapped to your wrist, and a hospital gown is lovingly tied on by your nurse/server. Refusal to participate will result in no service. Maybe this is part of their disclaimer? My friends and I sat at a table, which later proved a mistake. Famous paintings adorn the walls such as American Gothic, The Creation of Adam, etc, with cheeseburgers and fries strategically injected into the pieces.

The menu is pretty basic: burgers and fries, cooked in a decidedly unhealthy manner. The cooks do wear surgical garb though, which made me feel somewhat better. The only semi-healthy thing I saw there was when one of the line cooks messed up.  As punishment, she was sent around to the dining room to do ten pushups as a penalty (counted off aloud and bilingually by the patrons). There are four burger sizes: single, double, triple, and quadruple bypass. The quadruple is two pounds.  If you finish it, you are given a wheelchair ride to your car. They have a limited selection of drinks: bottled water (by law, not choice), Budweiser, Corona, margaritas, and 20 ounce bottled Coke. Ordering the water gets you dirty looks and is not advisable.  Why they do not sell milkshakes or deserts is beyond me. There is no light or diet anything, and no tea or juice. Even though you cannot smoke in AZ restaurants, they do sell unfiltered cigarettes to go, or to enjoy on their side patio.

My friends and I all got the double bypass cheeseburger (1 lb), fries, and Cokes. We were cared for by the lovely Nurse, Elysha, who took our order on a hospital chart and put it in a computer with a red cross as a screen saver. The burgers come greasy with just meat and cheese. There is a topping bar where you can have all the fixings and condiments you want. Do I really have to tell you the food is good? How could it not be? It makes Fuddruckers look like a vegan delight.

Oh, and if you’re over 350 lbs, you eat for free.  This offer is not just as a one-time gimmick, but all day every day. There is currently a lawsuit involving a rather large woman from Mesa who insists the The Heart Attack Grill is practicing some form of assisted suicide.  Not sure about this, though, as Dr. Kevorkian only eats in nearby Tempe.  Just know you will be weighed in front of the whole restaurant before you take your first bite. Visions of Homer Simpson’s attempt to become morbidly obese to work from home, danced through my head.  Being single and kitchen illiterate, I can eat a lot of restaurant food, but this endeavor proved a challenge. Much like spending time with the Ghetto Shaman sober. With about three bites of my double bypass sitting there for awhile, Nurse Elysha checked on me.

“You are slowing down handsome, are you going to be able to finish?”

I informed her she was not the first woman to utter those words. I did finish though (the burger you pervs) and when the bill came I paid my portion all in singles. Elysha looked at me kind of funny, and I told her I get tipped a lot of singles in my line of work. I left it at that.

The Heart Attack Grill sells souvenir shirts up to 5XL, and they’re opening a second location soon in Orlando. Good luck Sarah Angelfire. But wouldn’t Las Vegas be a better fit? The only negative about the place is the men’s room, which I found to be woefully inadequate –only a single stall and a single urinal with a mural of women pointing down and laughing above it.  It did little for my self esteem, much like hanging around the Ghetto Shaman sober.

On the way back from the men’s room I noticed mirrors behind the counter seats, strategically angled so you can admire the backside of other waitresses as you admire the front side of yours. The best time to dine is just before 3PM when there is a shift change, as you can see more nurses for the buck.

I am not a technologically friendly individual (TFI). I am one step away from Theodore Kaczynski, but that is an important step. I still tape my shows VHS style, listen to music on cassette (my 8 track finally gave out), and pay my bills through the mail.  In fact, I sent this article to the Discord after typing it, and I do mean typing, it. Winslow’s plan for carrier pigeons seems a little high-tech for my taste.  But I can tell you there’s more information on The Heart Attack Grill on the interweb, so check out Facespace and Mybook, and Videotube.

So let’s review what we have learned:

  1. Do not invite Zano. This is actually blanket advice and should be applied to all situations.
  2. Bring cash since debit and credit are not accepted (I forgot to mention that). There is a generic ATM next to the blood pressure machine.
  3. Go during shift change and sit at counter for maximum viewing pleasure.
  4. Bring plenty of film, or one of those fancy new magic cameras, since picture taking is encouraged.
  5. While using the men’s room, repeat an affirmation such as “I am a well endowed male,” or some such as to avoid leaving the place with a complex.
  6. Wear loose fitting clothing (for multiple reasons) and go hungry.

Hungry was the one thing we were not as we waddled our bloated bladders, clogged colons, and impacted intestines past the ambulance back to the car.  I cannot in good conscience recommend eating here on a regular basis. Fortunately I do not have a good conscience, so go often, load up, and chow down!