Sunday Book Review – Vegas and the Mob – Forty Years of Frenzy

My Sunday Book Review for Vegas and the Mob – 40 Years of Frenzy. This book may not be on everyone’s reading list, but if you’re interested in factual information on the beginning of evolution of Sin City – Las Vegas when it was run by mobsters, you will enjoy this book. I’ve always had a deep fascination with mobster memoir, and this is a fascinating read about how much the mob controlled many things beyond Las Vegas. As the blurb states: “His Best Selling work, “Vegas and the Mob” started with nearly 600 pages of FBI documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Specific details and incidents were also verified by old-time gamblers and casinos owners from the era.”






Las Vegas was the Mob’s greatest venture and most spectacular success, and through 40 years of frenzy, murder, deceit, scams, and skimming, the FBI listened on phone taps and did virtually nothing to stop the fun. This is the truth about the Mob’s history of control of the casinos in Vegas like you’ve never heard it before, from start to finish. Las Vegas history has never been so fascinating!

“Vegas and the Mob” tells the story of how the Mob began in the 1920’s, how Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky became partners, and how Las Vegas fell to the Mob after two of the nation’s most powerful crime family bosses went to prison in the 1930’s: Al Capone, and Lucky Luciano. Frank Nitti took over the Chicago Outfit, while Frank Costello ran things for the Luciano Family. Both men were influenced by their bosses from prison, and both sent enough gangsters into the streets to influence loan sharking, extortion, union control, and drug sales.

Bugsy Siegel worked for both groups, handling a string of murders and opening up gaming on the west coast, and that included Las Vegas, an oasis of sin in the middle of the desert – and it was legal. Most of it. The FBI watched as the Mob took control of casino after casino, killed off the competition, and stole enough money to bribe their way to respectability back home.

By the 1950’s, nearly every major crime family had a stake in a Las Vegas casino. Some did better than others. Casino owners watched over their profits while competing crime families eyed each other’s success like jealous lovers. Murder often followed.

But that’s not the end of the story! The FBI finally started cracking down on the Mob and casino skim in the 1960’s, and even with car bombings, murder and arson, it was twenty more years before the government was able to say the Mob was out – in the 1980’s. This book tells the whole story!


My 5 Star Review:

Like the last line of the blurb states “This book tells the whole story!” And it surely does chronicle all the players, who they were, and what they did to each other to maintain status and territory. As a nonfiction writer and reader, I gravitate to true event stories and their history, and this book does a great job of covering the span of mob corruption from the 1920s to the creation of Las Vegas. The author has done a great job with bringing in so many characters in one book with great character analysis without overwhelming the reader with character confusion. Some may even find humor in some the nicknames earned for the criminals.

Mobsters galore, territorial warfare, and Las Vegas – the perfect spot to siphon and launder money, this book tells all. Even some of the players weren’t exempt from punishment if they became a little to mouthy or complained. It would take nothing for a Pit Boss to signal a bartender to make a ‘special drink’ for such players. No law required those days in the casinos. Mob ruled.

The construction of Las Vegas was a desert allure built to entice players from around the globe with each casino trying to outdo or out-theme the next with Hollywood entertainment, nice accommodations and plenty of freebies to entice. This book will take you to the beginnings of the gambling mecca from the dirt floored downtown casinos to the construction and millions of dollars injected into the casino empires, which changed ownership frequently as every new crime group bought up interest, or for some, outright took over.

Learn about how Bugsy Seigel took advantage of Billy Wilkerson’s bad gambling habit and started the famed Flamingo hotel, which turned out to be the beginning of one of the biggest money-making skimming scheme in America with no oversight as the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover ‘looked away’ and let it continue because of the goods the mob had on him. So many ‘hands in the pots’ had all finally come down to law and order by the 1970s with a ‘legal’ gaming commission.

This book is a treasure trove of information for all mobster buffs and those curious like me who can’t get enough of this sensational era.



#Memoir Byte: -Not Far From The Maddening Crowd – The Day I Thought Was My Last

New Year’s Eve, approximately 10 years ago while in Las Vegas, Nevada, we had tickets to partake in a New Year’s celebration with dinner and dancing at a fabulous restaurant in the Planet Hollywood hotel right next door to the Paris Hotel where we were staying. We thought it would be convenient to celebrate the new year close by our hotel because it was conveniently located and didn’t require a cab on one of the craziest traffic nights in Las Vegas to get there. But something we almost gravely over-looked was the much anticipated wait for what seemed liked thousands of people setting themselves up for the planned daredevil stunt of Evel Knievel’s son to cross from one side of the huge Las Vegas Boulevard  to the other on his motorcycle across a tightrope.


Our reservations were for 8pm, so at 7:30pm we began our – what should have been a 10 minute walk from hotel to hotel, but once we got outside we were presented with a dilemma.

Once outside, we saw the yellow caution tape and guardrails were all in place. Our hotel and the one we were heading to next door had been blocked off as well as much of Las Vegas Boulevard. No pedestrian could pass through the blockade to walk next door as the crazy stunt show was being prepared for. The Las Vegas strip was blocked off for blocks so that no car traffic would clog the streets where pedestrians usually stand with drinks in hand to take in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve, already packed with spectators. The only way we could get next door was by crossing the multi-laned boulevard, walking down a long few blocks in order to cross back and walk back up to our destination – only the streets were filled with thousands already awaiting the deadly stunt. There was no way anyone could humanly cross through the stampede of people.

We stood in amazement surveying the crowded street, wondering how on earth we could plow through what seemed like a giant can of sardines growing tighter by the minutes. From my vantage point it seemed as though people barely had enough room to stand in one spot with barely enough room to keep their two feet both on the ground, holding their drinks high above their heads because there was certainly no room for arms length. Either many people were going to be wearing those drinks or one little shove by anyone would set off a domino effect of everyone falling and then being trampled on.

The crowd was rambunctious. My anxiety escalated by the second. We had yet to attempt to cross the road, fearing there was no room to walk through and nobody was letting anyone in their reserved standing space for fear they may get pushed back from their coveted spots. There was literally no room left for another body to squeeze onto the boulevard.

Many police were on the scene doing their best to maintain crowd control, constantly blowing whistles and reminding people not to come near the guard rails, which also guarded the police in safety from themselves not being bulldozed over by an overwhelming amount of people. All we wanted to do was get across the street and it was apparent if we were to get to our venue, we had to attempt getting through that crowd.

I’m a claustrophobic person, and the sight of what we had to endeavor just to cross almost paralyzed me with fear. Somehow, my impatient husband finally grabbed my arm and linked it tightly and said it was time to plow through.

We began our trek. After nearly half an hour of desperately pushing through people while chanting a thousand ‘pardon mes’, we barely managed to cross one lane and we were stuck. This prompted my husband to become exceptionally aggressive using his elbows to attempt to make space for us to pass while pushing and shouting out loud, “We don’t want your spot, we just want to cross the street,” repeatedly. I struggled to keep hold of his arm as I tried to breathe. My 5’2″ stature made me feel as though I were a doll stuck among a sea of giants and as my anxiety elevated I began to hyper- ventilate with visions of dying right there from lack of oxygen. The crowd was getting rowdier and had no compassion for anyone standing in their way.

I was sure I was going to die that night in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard. My fear peaked to the max and I knew in that moment we weren’t going to make it, so I screamed. I shouted at the top of my lungs, “Help me, I’m having a heart attack.” This wasn’t far from the truth as I truly felt I was about to have one. I shouted over the crowd so the police could hear me. And just like one of God’s miracles, a policeman blew his whistle and within a few minutes he’d cleared a narrow path with some other police, grabbed me and pulled me and my husband to a safe spot across to the side of the street we were aiming to get to.

Oceans of tears spilled down my face in relief as the policeman brought the paramedics over to me. I was so flustered and could barely talk but managed to let them know I had recently had open heart surgery as I pulled open my coat to expose my scar so they didn’t think I was lying about heart issues. This was not a lie as I had the surgery two years prior. Yes I screamed heart attack as it was the only option I saw for us to be saved, and surely if I didn’t, I would have had one anyway.

The paramedics wanted to take me to the hospital until I explained what happened and why I was driven to scream for their help. They checked my vitals, gave me a bottle of water and asked me to sit down for a few moments to bring back down my blood pressure. Then they wished me a Happy New Year and let us go.

We walked down 2 long blocks before we could safely cross back across the boulevard – without the crowd, and walked to the restaurant, almost an hour late for our reservation.

I should have listened to my internal warning alarm and sacrificed our evening plans, but I didn’t and learned the hard way how easily people can die in a crowd. If I hadn’t had the good sense to scream ‘heart attack’, I’m almost certain I would have had one anyway.

We were meeting my hub’s daughter and son-in-law at the restaurant. When we finally sat down, they asked, “What took you guys so long.”

Have any of you ever been stuck in a mob crowd?





Lost #Vegas




While sitting in a café on our last evening in Las Vegas, I reaffirmed to myself that this trip to what was once my favorite getaway spot for decades, was no longer fulfilling my passion.

Much has changed about that once mysterious, intriguing little spot in the desert since I first went there over thirty years ago. (Am I giving my age away?)

The grand allure Vegas held for me in the past had vanished, along with much of its old charm. Gone are the days of ‘beautiful people’ dressed in their finery just to enter a casino at night. Gone are the days of $1.99 buffets, free comp tickets given out to select patrons by pit bosses as a thanks for leaving a donation, or just because they liked you.


The hotel rooms were once all so elegant, with marbled bathrooms and comfortable beds. Many hotels still have their marbled bathrooms, only now, they seem to be in need of an overhaul. The hotel I stayed in, although the room was fairly nice and could have used updating, most definitely had the original mattresses. Mine was so soft and worn, it put my hip out, and still hasn’t healed. Room comfort is not a huge priority there. And I wasn’t impressed by the $32 a night, plus tax, ‘resort fee’ they began charging over a year ago. I questioned the girl at the front desk as to what ‘this fee’ is for. She smiled with her response as she told me I would have ‘free’ (wasn’t I just now paying for it?) internet, parking and use of the gym. I replied, “I don’t have a car, or a computer here, and the last thing I came to Vegas for was to go to the gym.” Then I proceeded to try to persuade her to knock off the bogus $212.62 U.S. charge (That’s $260. Canadian dollars!) For ZIP!—to no avail.

In older decades, the nightclubs featured icons like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., et al. It wasn’t uncommon to find any one of those stars pass through a casino in between sets or during the day. The Strip, Las Vegas Boulevard, was merely a dusty road that led from McCarran airport to the strip of iconic hotels that housed all the excitement of the town. The short five minute drive offered a view of merely vast desert patches of cacti, interspersed with the infamous hotels of yesteryear.

And there wasn’t a child in sight.

I’ve been to Vegas over thirty times through the decades. I’ve watched, in sadness, some of those beloved, iconic hotels get blown up to smithereens, in order for the bigger and better ones to take their places. But bigger wasn’t better; at least not for those like me who loved the adult wonderland that it once was.

Vegas has become too big, too crowded, and certainly one jumbo commercialized enterprise. The streets are crowded by the new younger generation, baby carriages, and people hounding you to ‘ultimately’ buy time shares, see hot girls, and once I was even offered ‘free money’ if I partook in some seminar. Ya, trust me, nothing is free, especially in Vegas. Heck, you can’t even take a picture of a costumed character on a street corner without them charging you for the photo.

The entertainment is mostly geared towards the younger crowd; pool parties, DJ’ed nightclubs, and other assorted themed parties. Sure, there are still comedy shows and various Cirque de Soleil shows, which can run you $300 to $400 dollars for two tickets.

The casinos don’t seem to be as full anymore. The city earns its revenues from the entertainment avenues they now provide. This leaves me wondering, where do these young folks get this money to spend there? Another distant thing of the past is the constant ringing of jackpot bells from slot machines. I don’t recall hearing the chiming of ‘Ding, ding, ding’ in any casino I walked through.


Drinks are still free in the casinos, but step outside to anywhere, and you’ll pay large for a cocktail, and even for water. I was blown away when my hub and I ate dinner in a moderately priced restaurant and the glass of (inexpensive) wine I ordered was $12 U.S. dollars! Sheesh! They sold that same bottle of wine in the Dollar store there for eight bucks!


I still don’t get why people want to take their children and particularly babies to a place like that. Smoking is only permitted in casinos there now, but most hotels you must walk through the open-air casinos which adjoin the lobbies. Kids aren’t allowed, supposedly in the casinos, but that didn’t stop so many of them from running around the slot machines, nor did it prompt any pit bosses to alert a player to this rule who continued to play blackjack with her baby carriage parked right beside the table!

Texting has also become the main form of communication there. Hundreds of zombie-like people pave the streets, aimlessly, looking down at their phones. Even the restaurants, which many of them seem to be hosted by very young girls, can leave one waiting in long lines until the next table becomes available, because the hostesses are busy chatting and texting, instead of noticing the empty tables that have yet to be cleaned and reset.

What has happened to my beloved Vegas? As I continued to watch the crowded sidewalks, and the constant line-ups of bumper-to-bumper traffic on the now very busy, eight lane Las Vegas Boulevard, where the taxi meters chug away at lightning speed, I had to wonder where did all the boomers go?

Sure, there were boomers there, but not nearly as many as the younger generation. We were certainly a minority. My husband and I shook our heads at what has become of a place we both once adored, and decided the people of yesteryear must have already moved on to places such as Reno or maybe Tahoe. We both said that we wouldn’t go back to Vegas for a very long time; if ever.

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But my love for the desert hasn’t faltered. And as many of you know, my newest passion is for Arizona. Lots of open space, so much to see and do, and the warm, inviting desert climate will become our new winter home, starting this coming winter.


DGKaye ©July 2015

A Penny’s Worth

My two cents

Things that make me go hmmm?


While strolling the Miracle Mile Mall underneath the hotel I stayed at in Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood, I passed a little kiosk which sold little charms and baubles. My eye caught a silver bracelet, which had engraved in it, Live Laugh Love. Being that the saying is part of my mantra and website header, I had to have it.

When I went to pay the petite blond woman, with the thick Slavic accent, she quoted me the price. The dollar value was irrelevant, but the cents came to sixty-two.

I scrambled in my wallet for the two pennies, and found one. I asked her if that was good enough and she sternly said, “No, it’s two cents.” I chuckled at her and asked her if she was serious.

I also wondered if she was going to let go of a nice sale for a lousy penny. And then I said to her, “In my country, Canada, we don’t even use pennies anymore; we round off to the nearest nickel.”

The woman replied, “Well, this is America. Our pennies are still worth money.” I found her tone and lecture to be quite aggressive and unfriendly. If I didn’t love everything that bracelet signified to me, I’d have left it there.

Now, I know things aren’t as cheap in the States as they once were. And I know you can’t really buy anything for a dollar there either; just as in Canada. So I found her defense for her ‘not natural born American attitude’ a bit over the top.

Still, I suppose she had the right to state her opinion about a country that gave her citizenship. But in this day and age to make a big deal over a penny seems so insignificant.

I found another penny at the bottom of my purse. She got her two cents from me.

DGKaye  ©July 2015

The Joys of #Travel . . .Not!


Traveling is hard enough these days, but add in a mix of extra city traffic, due to lane closures, construction and Toronto hosting the PanAm games, and driving in this city is a horror.

As many of you know, I’ve just returned from a week off to Las Vegas. This post is one of two (maybe three) I’ve written on my little getaway.

Within the week before I went on vacation to Las Vegas, two of our Canadian airlines had six bomb threats. And two days before I left, there was a Wildcat Strike by the fuelers of the airplanes. It was also July fourth weekend, and the U.S. was on an extra precautionary high alert.

Amidst all that commotion, you have me and my husband hoping our plane would take off SAFELY. There were two days of backlogged planes that were cancelled and delayed prior to the 5th, when we were to leave. I spent the previous day keeping an ear to the news updates, in hopes of hearing about the sudden unauthorized strike being resolved.

I went and did my 24 hour prior to flight check-in, and was happy to find that my flight, so far, hadn’t yet been cancelled. While I was surfing the Air Canada site, I thought I might as well double-check the baggage restrictions. My instincts told me that because there had been so much chatter and complaints about people getting  ridiculous with the size and amount of their carry-ons, trying to avoid baggage fees, that the airlines may start clamping down at any time. No doubt, it’s those people with over-loaded carry-ons that ruin it for others. The overhead storage compartments on the plane get over-stuffed and the last stragglers on the plane often have no place to put their carry-ons.

So, naturally, as I surmised, the airlines had changed their dimensions of allowable carry-ons. Was it a coincidence these new guidelines changed within a month of my travel date? I found out that if regulations aren’t followed, our carry-ons would be checked and charged the same fee as though it were a regular bag. I also noted the standard carry-on legal size guide was somehow shortened to no longer than 21 1/2 inches long (from the previous 23″), INCLUDING WHEELS AND HANDLES.

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I rummaged through my junk drawer, in search for a measuring tape. As I was measuring my ‘what had always been considered a legal size carry-on’, I discovered that my newest addition to my luggage, my Route 66 carry-on, was an inch and a half higher than now allowed. I called out to my hub to inform him that he had to go back down to the over-crowded locker, and bring up a different carry-on, because I didn’t want any unpleasant surprises at the airport.

Travel day arrived. I was happy to find that our scheduled flight for 9:15am was on time. I awoke at 4:00am and turned on my laptop to verify the plane was leaving on time, before I scurried around with last minute switching of things around between carry-ons, a quick coffee, and got dressed. Before I knew it, two hours had passed and the limo was picking us up at 6:15am. You may be thinking that’s early, three hours before flight time. But I anticipated it would be a hectic transition until boarding the plane. In fact, I was hoping I had given us enough time; twenty minute drive (with no traffic) to airport, and lots of time for line-ups. And line-ups there were!

I thought I’d be one step ahead by doing my web check-in and printing my boarding pass at home, but as it turned out, if you didn’t also print out baggage tags, you had to stand in some extremely lengthy lines to do so at a kiosk, then go to baggage drop off, or go to assisted check-in line where the line was half of what was doing at kiosk. I opted for the latter; what seemed like the lesser of the two evils.

The Air Canada zones were mobbed. I suspected there were many stranded passengers from the previous two days delays and cancellations. There we were, smack in the midst.

After the nice Air Canada check-in lady told us to have a nice flight and to go to U.S. customs, then to baggage drop-off. The usual protocol turned into a very lengthy exercise.

Normally, it was a three minute stroll to U.S. customs. But we had to take our bags about a half-mile down the airport to what seemed like a holding area. We weren’t allowed to go to customs at that point. The area was so crowded, and there were gated walkways patrolled by boarding pass checkers. They were only calling passengers by boarding times. We were asked to take a seat until our flight time was called.



“Are you kidding me?” I mumbled to myself as I surveyed what had to be at least a couple of hundred people waiting for their time to be called.

When I arrived there it was 6:50am, and they were only letting flights cross through departing at 8:50am. I pulled my husband out of the view of the boarding pass checkers, and tried to stand inconspicuously behind a big sign, keeping close to the walkway because there was no way I was going to be in another huge line to customs when our flight was called.

I was asked a few times to take a seat when the checkers glanced my way, but they were so busy turning people away, they didn’t reinforce their instructions to us, so we remained in our quick getaway spot.

About an hour later, around 7:50am, they finally called for the 9:15am flights to pass through customs. Hub and I were 2nd in line. Once in line, we stood another ten minutes until the entrance was opened, and then the walk to customs turned out to be another half mile back to where we originally checked in to go to customs.

We had to pass through another kiosk to swipe our passports and take our mugshots before proceeding to a customs agent for interrogation before we could drop off our bags. By this time I was feeling quite bitchy.

Yay, finally dropped off bags, and off to security line. Yes, I know the drill, I wanted to say as I smiled at the security checker. We unpacked, undressed, repacked, redressed, and finally we were on our way to our gate.


I stopped for a coffee so I could eat my breakfast I had in my purse—of which I had to show the customs agent; a flaxseed and corn wrap with chopped egg. Then I made one more stop. I stopped to get us our usual 500 ml bottle of water to have on the plane. The water that replaced the two half filled bottles we had to toss at security. “That will be $8.49,” the cheery girl at the cash said. I laughed out loud as I added my usual two cents about how I feel about being ripped off.

I said, “Are you kidding me?” As if I was really surprised that I’d be paying for a bottle of water almost the same as what a beer costs. Done ranting, I shoved my bottles of water in my purse and trekked about another half mile to my gate. No joke!

We just made it to the gate at the requested boarding time. By then I felt as though I’d run a marathon, lifted weights, and had put in a day’s work. Our flight took off on time. I sat in my cramped seat and wrote this post as we lifted off to the west.


Note: I’d like to proudly add that after traveling to so many places through the years and struggling with overweight luggage (my weakness) that I’ve learned the tricks of the trade and this trip, I successfully managed to be within the guidelines, without being stopped by the airlines going, and without being stopped by Canada customs on my return. For those of you who don’t know how many times I’ve been stopped in the past, this was a major feat. And because of the many issues I’ve encountered through my travels, they were the inspiration for my new upcoming book, Have Bags, Will Travel. A humorous book of tales about some of the places I’ve been to, and incidents that occurred with me and my bags on those trips.


Leaving Las Vegas

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It is always nice to go on vacation and always good to come home. In case some of you hadn’t noticed, it has been kind of quiet here on my site and my social media this week while I was on vacay.

I took a little break just before getting things ready to publish my book, Conflicted Hearts, with my galpal, Cindy. We jaunted off to Vegas for four days.  The two redheads went to paint the town ‘red’ and shop ’til we drop, and we did just that.DSC01866

Our venture began very early Tuesday morning to catch our flight. The usually quite comfortable WestJet seats had somehow became like sitting in a sardine can. This was an unpleasant and uncomfortable surprise to me, being that I had just flown WestJet only a few months ago and many times before and I always applauded them for being a comfortable flight.

Cindy nor I are big people and we both have short legs and trying to cross them was a feat in itself.  We couldn’t even slide into our seats without pivoting around on one leg to plop into our seat.

The unusually extra long flight (due to no tail winds) only fuelled my claustrophobia as we both complained to one other most of the way there, as though it was going to change anything……not, but it felt better if we could bitch about it. We did laugh though and reminisced about the days when travelling was fun.

In those days past, they didn’t fit as many seats as they could on the plane so humans actually had leg room (we pitied those who were taller than us…..that would be anyone taller than five foot three), food was real and included in the price, drinks were free, there was more than one washroom on each end and you didn’t have to undress publicly to get through security and get a dose of radiation in the process. I beefed about tossing your water at security so you can re-purchase more only feet away from security for just four dollars more.

Yes, we were flying to sunny Las Vegas where the temps had been rising to close to 80 degrees daily….until we got there, it was around 50 degrees. As we shivered getting into the limo we looked on the bright side and decided it was still warmer than where we were coming from, leaving our early winter behind.

Gambling was not a friend to me as I donated to the casinos and pointed to a chandelier to Cindy and told her it was mine because I thought I had helped pay for it. We ate at some fine restaurants and put a lot of miles on our feet, which never seemed to stop hurting no matter how many shoes we brought or bought. But that didn’t deter us from spending almost a whole day at the mall, walking, shopping and carrying the many bags that crooked our necks and shoulders. Sometimes a girl has to sacrifice to get some power shopping done.

Sleeping had become a lost luxury as we hit the sheets long after midnight and found ourselves waking at 5am, lucky if it was 7am. Neither of us are drinkers but I decided one night at dinner that we should have a martini…..just because. They were so yummy that we had another. I will only say that these were VEGAS SIZED drinks.DSC01878

As we happily jaunted over to the casino after our late dinner, I decided that I should have just one more martini. I felt fine….real fine. A few hours later, after my nightly donation to the slot machines, I decided to call it a night and left Cindy, who never seemed to have a problem lasting hours on twenty dollars at a machine, where my twenties lasted about three minutes.

I walked the long, what seemed like half mile walk back to our room, seemingly fine and glad I was numb to the pain in my high heeled feet. I got into the room….and suddenly it hit me. Boom! The room started spinning and I instantly passed out flat, half on Cindy’s bed and the rest of me hanging off the chaise at the end of the bed. This scene was not unlike a Roadrunner cartoon when something hits him and he lays flattened.

When Cindy finally came up and saw me posed, sprawled out like a rag doll, fully clothed, she got concerned. She shook me and I raised my head in a spinning stupor and somehow managed to make a run for the porcelain. It was a rough night for me and an even rougher, next, long day. That was the beginning and end of my drinking binge.

Yup, three drinks and I was down for the count. Note to myself……I am not twenty-five anymore. Well we laughed a lot about it after and I was grateful she didn’t have her ever trusty camera on hand to catch that Kodak moment.

Alas, our time in Vegas was coming to an end. It was time to pack and get creative about fitting our new purchases in our bags and not being overweight in luggage fees. Happily I got my bag weighed in at only one pound under the fifty pound allowance…….yes, I know it was only four days!

It was time to wheel our luggage, bags and purses through the long, long corridor to the elevators then through the half mile long casino to the front lobby to our awaiting limo to go to the airport to catch our delayed flight back to Toronto. It was beautiful weather, hot in the mid seventies. Of course it was, we were leaving.

We got on the plane finally and found that there was no cabin space for my overstuffed heavy carryon bag.  When I spotted an available spot two rows down from us I tried with all my might to lift that bag in the air into that cabin to no avail. Finally a kind man in row 8 (who I later named him Row 8), offered assistance and got it up for me.  After Cindy and I sat down in our tiny crawlspace and I turned back to the helpful man and said, “Hi man in row 8, would you please be kind enough to get my bag back down when we land?” He kindly offered to do so and Cindy and I laughed and reminisced over the days we just spent together and some of the characters we met along the way, then we happily ate our left over dinners from Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant the night before.

Cindy and I share the same passion for Vegas.  We have both been there many, many times and we often reminisce together about ‘the old’ days of Vegas, when Vegas was Vegas.  As we took off in flight and rose over the beautiful Sierra mountains and the Grand Canyon, we chatted about the next time we will be back there. When we landed “Man in Row 8” kindly took my bag down and handed it to me.  As we walked on the long, long walk to customs with our bags in tow we approached the escalator down which was broken. With my purse weighing at least twenty pounds and my carryon not far from thirty-five pounds, I could barely make it down the escalator when lo and behold behind me approached, Man in Row 8. He once again kindly offered to tote my bag down the non functioning escalator. As we sailed through customs and got our bags we were on our way back home. Note to myself…..Upgrade seats to Florida for winter vacation!


The Thrill Is Gone?

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After I finished writing my memoir (still untitled), and into second revisions, my husband treated me to a week in Las Vegas.  It was great and extremely hotttt!  Unfortunately though, each time I go back there, I am finding more and more that Vegas just isn’t what it used to be.  It has lost it’s charm as more and more it becomes a metropolis.  Vegas had definitely gone from ‘Adult Wonderland’ to ‘Disneyworld.’  Baby carriages and kids abound everywhere; on the streets, walkways, even in the casinos.  Gone are the days of wearing your finery to the casinos, pit bosses handing out ‘comps’ to shows or dinner, and in some cases even receiving a smile.

Vegas is a place I have been going to for over thirty years.  Those were the years when Vegas was Vegas.  I sadly watched all the iconic hotels being destroyed one by one, only to be replaced with something ‘bigger and better’ and subsequently, to outdo the last biggest hotel that was put up.    The once super-sized inexpensive meals are now smaller, relative to the larger price tags and the vast amount of shows are equally expensive.  A taxi will start at $3.80 before you even sit yourself down in one and because of the enormous amount of traffic; pedestrian and vehicular, the gridlock will keep your meter clicking as you stand idol.  A three block ride on a busy Las Vegas Boulevard could easily run you near $20.00 with a tip.

I go there every year, sometimes two or three times a year.  I love the dry heat and playing in the poker tournaments.  As far as the ambiance goes, I am getting less and less impressed each time I go.  It seems paradoxical to me that Vegas is supposed to be a gambling mecca, yet by catering to the families and teens, I never saw as many gamblers in casinos as I saw people walking the streets and shops and restaurants.  I’m a bit surprised at the seeming sacrifice Vegas has made to give up more of the their bread and butter casino income to bringing in droves of kids.  Somehow to me, it aint Vegas.

Only in the moments when I watch tournaments being played at the WSOP or when I myself am playing in a tournament, do I actually feel like I am in ‘Old Vegas.’  Yes despite all said and felt, if enough time passes, somehow I can’t help but think that most likely, I will eventually go back again.  Somehow I can’t seem to shake that euphoric feeling that comes upon me every time I walk off that plane into McCarran Airport and once again feel like I am home.