Thursday, October 30, 2014

Big Dog's Brewing

Where I currently call home is right down the street from Las Vegas's oldest brewery, Big Dog's, and I've gone to their draft house a few time because it's pretty fantastic. Last night was the last game of the World Series, and the Giants were in it, and I'd only seen game one and four, so I went to Big Dog's where they have so many screens, you can look around and dig the people while watching the game. Turned out to be one of the best baseball games I'd seen in years, and what a place to watch it.

Vegas is weird when it comes to sports. Since the population is kind of made up of various diaspora, you'll find people loyal to their hometown sports teams everywhere you go. And Nevada doesn't have pro team, so it's different from anywhere I've ever been. For example, if you go to Chicago during baseball season, you're a Sox fan or a Cubs fan, that's it. Here, you can go into a bar and it'll be Giants fans sitting next to Royals fans.

Anyway, this brewery has ten or so beers they make there, and all of them are on point. In particular, I like their Dirty Dog IPA and their Tail Wagger Wheat is one of the better craft Hefeweizens I've had. In addition to that, they also have a huge selection of guest taps. This is a treat because I miss drinking some of the hard-to-get Goose Islands and Firestone Walkers

The decor is kind of cowboyish with rustic wood. They just installed glass rinsers at every tap standard, and they have a few kinds of glasses, so their presentation is pretty right on. Video poker at every seat at the bar, and screens EVERYWHERE if you're into that, but also they have a low-light outdoor seating area that they've done up nicely enough you don't feel like you're sitting in a parking lot. The personnel are knowledgeable, and they're acceptably quick even when they're busy as hell.


Also, free Wifi, which I shouldn't even have to tell you about, but I hate it when a bar doesn't have free Wifi. In fact, I hate it when any place doesn't have it. How am I supposed to give you free advertisement without it? Ugh, Caesars properties all want to charge you for it, and I abhor them for that. Just another reason to go anywhere else. Anyway, you can go on Untapped and log all your Big Dog's beers here because it's FREE!

I wish they'd have a couple more vegetarian options on their menu. They probably figure they don't have to because most of their clientele seem perfectly cool eating sausages and burgers, but I'm kind of a regular now, and all I get are fries or hummus. I got their Boca burger once, and it was OK. A Greek salad could be cool. or just a discount on getting salads without the meat could be an idea. I don't know, it would be nice to be able to come for dinner there more often.

I ended up sitting next to a guy from Seattle who grew up in Nebraska who liked Kansas City. It was fun watching the game with him until his lady started saying he doesn't watch baseball and was putting him down. I hate rude people like that. But over all, it was a really cool way to watch the Giants win the World Series and have a few great beers. I ordered a flight of five, and the bartender gave me an extra sample of their Oktoberfest "just for fun." I love this place.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tenaya Creek

I went to Tenaya Creek. It's the second oldest brewery in Las Vegas (15 years). They've won a couple medals at GABF, and it's clear why: their beer is pretty delicious. Their taproom had video poker at every stool, and everyone, patrons and service, was really friendly. I ended up getting in conversations with a few people and even a famous doctor who was in town on holiday.


Video poker installed at almost every seat, and they have pinball too. I put 50 cents in their Lord of the Rings machine and played for 40 minutes. I dug their wrought iron flight-holding thing that looked like a sculpture.

They've got a few flagships including a fantastic Brown (not too sweet, a little nutty) and a Pale Ale you could write home about if you wanted to make your mom happy--she doesn't hear from you enough! But they also had a bunch of seasonals that were really quite impressive in that there were five of them and they were all kind of epic. The seasonal that stood out for me was the DIPA and their Barley Wine.


Someone ordered a Cosmo, and I asked the bartender if they got much call for that sort of thing. She said a lot of people come for the atmosphere even if they aren't beer people, and I can see why: it's a really chill place with friendly locals. Who wouldn't like that?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Poetry and Cocktails

Last night I went to an open mic called the Human Experience. There was some poetry. I read some from the Murdercycle Diaries. The poetry reading was at the Beat, a cafe in downtown Las Vegas on Fremont Street. It's an interesting place filled with artists doing artistic things, and they had beer, some wine that had been open too long, and some spirits. I was surprised no local beer, but they had Magic Hat #9 and Dogfish Head 60 Min., so I had one each.

There was a lot of rapping, and slam, and some singer-songwriters, lovely women with guitars, a saxophone, and a guy who made 8-bit beats with his Gameboy. It was a loud room with loads of energy. I was entirely surprised when I read that the room fell silent, and everyone in it gave me their undivided attention. After I read, people came up to me and shook my hand and kind of gushed about how much they liked my work. I haven't received that kind of enthusiastic praise in a while at a reading. Las Vegas is a good place to be a poet, I think. But that might be premature, so give me time to investigate.

I met some new people at the reading, and one of them was a woman, so she and I went to one of my new favorite bars: Downtown Cocktail Room.

She's a beautiful middle-sized bar with a tricky door, which, even though I'd been there three times previously, I still paused before choosing to push the glass or the metal. They have an inspired list of seasonal cocktails, and I'll get around to trying more of them, but I had Fernet on the brain, so I ordered a drink I'd heard of online, 50/50 Fernet/Campari, which was OK, but they make impeccable Hanky-Panky's there, and I ended up drinking three of those.

My female companion was one of those lovely singer-songwriters, good guitar work, great voice, and a fair conversationalist. She was good company in that way women always are at dark bars late at night after poetry readings.

Here are a couple lists:


  1. Never allow anyone to say "Let's give it up again for _______" It's a waste of time, annoying, and inconsiderate to your audience and other performers.
  2. If someone goes over whatever time you've allotted them, have the courage to cut them off. If you told someone you would give them 3 dollars, and they grabbed 5, you'd be pissed. Time is precious.
  3. If a performer isn't there when their name is called, too bad. They're off the roster.


  1. Their layout lets you choose to be intimate or open and part of the action.
  2. Sophistication is the theme, but they somehow don't seem snobby about it.
  3. Dark as fuck.

Monday, October 27, 2014

BLVD Cocktail Company

I went out with a showgirl. The first time we went out, we met at the BLVD Cocktail Company. It was busy and loud, but actually a perfect place. I don't really like the LINQ very much, it reminds me too much of Downtown Disney or the Irvine Spectrum, but this place is worth checking out.

The reason I wanted to go out with this particular showgirl, despite my personal ban on all women who dance for a living, was the way she talked about Boulevardiers (there were tons of other things actually, but this was the thing that caught my attention and really won me over). And what better place to get a Boulevardier than BLVD? We showed up at 12:30 AM. Live music. Packed.

BLVD makes their Boulevardiers with a chocolate bitters that really rounds out the rye in a way that makes it sinfully delicious and smooth. Garnished with a cherry, it's a treat.

My first round was a Dry Manhattan made to perfection and served by a lovely model/cocktail waitress who was very attentive.

At one point, we had an uninvited guest. His name was Phil. I thought he was with my date at first, but it turned out he was just a passing reveler. He drunkenly complimented us, saying I have an awesome shirt and that we look like a great couple. Then he disappeared into the night, leaving a $10 beer on our tab. Our model/cocktail waitress happily deleted it.

I hope to visit this place again soon. 

I went on a second date with the showgirl. It was even better than the first. Then it fell apart. Personal ban: back on.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Favorite Quotes of the Week

These are really things I heard this week:

Said by a showgirl with a cigarette and an English accent:
"Everything is better with Rock and Roll."

Said by an old lady getting ready to go to a rodeo:
"I've missed out on a lot of life for fear of going to jail."

A friend of mine on Gchat:
"There are men who give women poetry, draw them pictures, and write them songs, but still bitches be playin."

A Poem for Chelsey Minnis

I kinda wish I coulda.........................
met and married Chelsey Minnis................................................................ .. ......

And like each other like..................
honey pots like bottle brushes.........................

Live a hard life with poems....... ... ... . .. . .... ......
with lots of dots in 'ems......................

Catch crabs we'll never eat...... . ...... . ..
put ice all over our mustaches.................................................................   .............................................................................................. . . . .


I'm rereading Poemland by Chelsey Minnis, and I love it too much.

My To-do List

This was the only thing on my to-do list.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jon Griffin Dies at the Age of 43

I didn't like Jon that much. He rolled with a crowd that I didn't fit into and didn't like me. But he was an artist and a dreamer. He was always into something artistic, showing up anywhere art was being done or sold, or late at night when streetlight people gathered at bars and lounges after the tourists were mostly gone. Everyone in town knew him.

His death saddens me. Yes, it's tragic to leave behind a toddling daughter, but that's not what I'm on about. It saddens me because here was this sensitive, artistic, dreaming, jerky soul that was snubbed out in America like he never had a chance. Too many people in my life have gone out like this. 

There's just no place for artists. They don't last long; they have too many natural predators. Heroin ended up getting Jon Griffin. This country has no patience for people with addiction. We treat it like a family secret, like a dark skeleton in the cellar who rattles inaudibly as we turn up the party music to drown out the racket. But I didn't even like Jon. I knew he was on the horse from time to time, but thought nothing of it and have no idea if anyone ever tried to help him. But I miss Jon Griffin.

A while back he started a gallery with some friends that quickly became a kind of all-ages, semi-illegal, underground rock club called GONE Studios. I didn't like GONE very much, but I ended up there from time to time, one of my best friends became an investor for a time, my band played there, and it helped spawn other art projects in town that were cool and interesting. My opinion always was, it's not for me, but I'm happy it exists. You need an underground art scene. You don't even know you need it, but you do. And it's going to be dirty, and smoky, and you're going to want to take a shower if you get into it for any length of time. Having lived in the underground art scene for huge chunks of my life, I didn't want to spend that much time with the people of GONE. Plus, there were drugs.

I've never been against drugs, but our attitude about them in this country is so myopic it's sickening. And maybe people like Jon wouldn't turn to them if there were a different attitude toward art in this country. Maybe Jon Griffin could have made ends meet if things were different. Maybe better access to grants, maybe cultural subsidies, maybe just a larger group of Americans who appreciate art and are willing to pay to support it. But who am I?

So you know how I felt about Jon while he lived, but I am deeply moved by his passing and filled with sorrow, too. And a lot of my friends loved him so much.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thoughts on the Napa 2014 Quake

By now you've heard of the 6.0 Napa Quake in August costing businesses there a conservative $80,000,000. It's probably a lot more. Firstly, let me just say to all those idiots out there who keep saying 6.0 ain't no thing: It is. I grew up in LA and went to school in The Bay, and I will tell you, a 6.0 is major. Half the structural damage you won't notice for years, and you're lucky to have lived through it. And if you're a collector of little glass figurines, and you've put thousands of dollars and years of your time into the collection, imagine how you'd feel picking up its shards. Now imagine if that was a massive cellar of aging wine you'd planned on selling as part of an investment strategy for your business, or worse, retirement.

But that's not even the worst of it. You might have harvested and crushed and aged for a year. You were about to bottle to make room in barrels for an October harvest. Too bad; you just lost your 2013 batch. And if you'd already started on your 2014, tough break, kid.

And all of that is why I think Napa wines will be 15-30% more costly from 2013, 2014, and maybe even 2015. And that is probably mostly going to be on the shelves because wineries have already maxed out what they can charge tourists in Napa (they've been fleecing visitors more and more each year).

On another note, I hope there will be a cool factor associated with 2014, maybe even collector's edition bottles commemorating the great quake. I personally would like to have a few bottles in my cellar like that, break 'em out at parties and have a story to tell.

But here't the other thing: If I were a winery in Oregon, Washington, New York, Virginia, or maybe even France or Argentina, I would DROP my prices ever-so-slightly. No one is taking down Cali any time soon, but I do think there is some brand development opportunity available to anyone willing to make a go of it next year. "Hey Napa's expensive this year, but check out this similar quality Cab from XYZ. It's usually more expensive than Napa, but they've actually lowered their price this year, and now they're CHEAPER than the Napa label." That's the pitch. EASY!

But I really do feel for the citizens of Napa and to anyone who loves Napa wine. It's a tragedy, it really is.


Gone Girl

Gone Girl is a scary movie, and that's perfect for an October release. It keeps you on edge throughout, and it proves once again that David Fincher is a genius. He's probably the best director of our time, and there are far too many people out there who don't know his name or his body of work. That should change.

My reaction to the big reveal was infuriating. It's weird how people who say they love you can turn into horrible monsters, pragmatic destructors, who are willing to destroy themselves to hurt you. In the film, they give this villain a motive, but it isn't necessary. I knew a guy whose ex-wife broke into his house, stole his dog and everything he owned, and then emptied his bank account out of nowhere. No cheating, big fight, nothing.

Gone Girl is kind of an extreme reflection. It's the fun-house mirror of Hollywood so aptly angled by the prestidigital Fincher that makes it worthwhile. The Trent Reznor contribution shouldn't go unnoticed either. This director/scorer team-up is the best we've seen/heard since Tim Burton met Danny Elfman.

If you wait until it's out on DVD (a mistake) make sure you play it loud.