Sure, I wish I could say our weekend was as epic as "The Hangover."
It was not.
Yours won't be either. But that's okay. Because nobody just laughs off a stolen a police car, and drug dealers shoot you in the head and leave you dumped in the middle of the strip. They do not become your buddy.
What you will get if you have a good time in Vegas, is a nice collection of little odd, funny stories. People you meet, things you see, moments you will joke about with your buddies for years to come.
For me, I got these bottles at the airport. They don't taste that good, and they don't cure hangovers. But I like the collection.
I spent 4 hours playing blackjack at the god-awful-when-are-they-tearing-this-place-down Riviera. Me and professional hanger-on "Clarkie" were grinding away on a $5 table. We were at the so-called "Passion Pit" set of tables, which does NOT contain any real passion, but DOES contain music and pole dancers.
Good enough for me.
Clarkie almost ended up witnessing history. I told him so. "What? History?" Yes, I said looking at my pathetic stack of 4 $5 chips left from my $100 buy in. "If this dealer wipes me out, I am officially RETIRING from blackjack forever. Right here. Right now."
When I sat down I promptly lost the first 5 hands. Most of them in absurd fashion. Our dealer even had a 6-card-21. Those are always fun. I actually TIPPED her for it, just for some kind of reverse-karma. I was getting crap cards after crap cards.
I'm playing standard strategy. Nothing nutty. And there I was, about to be bled out in 45 minutes.
Stupid. Fucking. Game.
But then... I guess the Vegas Gods had other ideas about my retirement. Because after I was already to walk away triumphantly in the blackjack sunset, the rally began. The dealer went from Brad Lidge 2008, to Brad Lidge 2009. Busting all over the place.
I clawed all the way back to a stack of $110, and could have walked away quite satisfied. But the free barrage of Southern Comfort and Diet's were just too nice, and I was not ready to go to bed yet. I gave back another $50 doing completely idiotic things just for fun. Like SPLITTING 6's! Wheeee!!! At $5 a hand, why the hell not?
At some point, a completely disturbed looking man who was barking out HIS recommended plays in what sounded like an Eastern European accent from a few feet off the table, decided to sit down.
He bought in.... with $20.
He then pushes one $5 chip onto the circle, and promptly loses the hand. Since my boy Clarkie had to play for $10 because he came in after the minimum change, I said loudly to our dealer: "Hey, how come he gets to play for $5?"
Uh oh. Idiot. WHY did I do that?
The dealer shuts him down at $5, much to his quiet dismay. I am sure he had a helluva plan to turn that $20 into something huge, but alas, now SOME ASSHOLE (me) decided to be the "dealer's pet student."
I nervously watch across the table at him (let's call him "Kreplach" from Slovenia just for fun) as he proceeds to sit out the next 2 or 3 entire shuffles of a 6 deck shoe. I keep thinking: oh shit, what have I done? This NUT is going to rise up at any moment, and drop me with Saturday night special hidden in his pants.
I finally ask the dealer: "Hey, can you help my boy over there and ask the pit boss if he can play his $5 hands?" She does, to no avail. Shit. The guy isn't leaving. And he's not looking real happy.
So what happened, Czabe? Did you guys become best friends, go to a strip club, win $10,000 on video poker, then steal a police car?
Kreplach ended up slinking into the slummy Riviera night, and I decided it was probably a good time to leave, since at least when he was at the table I could keep an eye on him.
And that's the kind of story you get in Vegas in real life. Plus many others. I enjoy my collection of these little moments, as I am you enjoy your collection of Vegas anecdotes and vignettes.
So where are my pictures this year? I didn't take any. At least not any on my phone. If you want that stuff, just go back and look at the collection of Hangover pictures "recovered" from the phone. They are better than anything you'll ever get in real life, and it won't get you in trouble at home, or at work.
How am I possibly going to make this event even better?
Because at this point, I am pretty sure I can't.
The 2013 edition of this annual event (I should start roman numeraling them for easier reference) has to go down as perhaps the smoothest, most efficiently perfect one yet.
Thanks to everyone of my listeners who signed up and showed up at the Hard Rock, and further reinforced my belief that good radio, is a shared experience.
To be able to talk to so many of you, and meet you, and to laugh at past show moments, bits, and segments was truly a blast. Your appreciation of the show's organic honesty with you, the listener, makes that infernal 5 a.m. wake up call very much worth it.
I offer my continued thanks to Mike Larragueta at the Hard Rock for being our group host. Don't ever leave Gaucho1, because I have grown an affinity for the Hard Rock that will make ever having to stay at a strip casino again.
For Eden Kovari, Mike's right hand gal and supreme organizational hostess, my gift to you is no longer having to take a call or an email from me, trying to tweak some tiny detail about our event! You handled all of my obsessive requests with professionalism, charm and diligence.
For Matt Shendelll of the Paige Group, operators of the Ainsworth Lounge where we chillaxed Thursday and Friday night, I can honestly say our spot was the most comfortable, perfect, and professionally staffed location to watch all these games in the entire city. Period. Not only did your group upgrade an already nice space, but any group that now books a private party will feel like they actually own the room.
My winners of the Bloody Horns golf tournament this summer enjoyed the two rounds at the Paiute Resort where the weather was springlike nice, but with a brisk desert breeze. Conditions were perfect, and my only regret was not being healthy enough with my lymie wrists to join them. I did play our 9-hole par-3 event on Friday under crystalline 72 degree sunshine and hardly a puff of wind.
My right hand men, Scott Linn and Eric Gitter were essential helpers in setting up the great "outdated souvenir dump" of 2012! (ha!) I tried my hardest to unload every shotglass shirt and basketball, but a few dozen are still getting shipped back home to my basement!
Bob and Brian showed up on time, mingled and chatted with everyone, and were diligent foot soldiers of the extended Czabe Army. I could not ask for more (Although Bob saw fit to jump up and "rahhhhh, YEAHHH!!!" no less than 2 feet from my face when his North Carolina wager came home, and my opposing piece of $ on Villanova went down in flames. Dick.)
The weather was great. The drinks were free. No injuries. No arrests. Nobody locked out on a hotel rooftop.
In sum. No complaints. Damn near perfect trip, perfect promotion.
Well, there was one minor complaint that kept coming up, over and over and over again. It went something like this..
"How come Solly and Galdi didn't come out this year."
I didn't have a great answer on either one, so I just left it like this to everyone who asked: "Next year, they'll be here... or they'll be fired."
Now I just have 361 days to work on making that happen.