Monday, April 25, 2011

First Trip to Vegas

          Vegas is a tiny wellspring of hearty diligence, an oasis of the bacchanalian senses along a street known as "The Strip." It might be five miles long, but then again, if you're counting the miles along The Strip you're not the target demographic for Vegas' main industry, monetized gratification. Vegas is what I thought LA would be. In comparison, my experiences in LA have been tame. Driving down The Strip, in Vegas, has more excitement, flash and pizazz then I honestly was expecting. This city built on the power of neon attraction. As an exotic dancer reveals the wonder and fullness of her breasts, Vegas opens herself wide for the neon show down under beneath. It is a neon rose whose synthetically velvety petals bloom full with the varied colors of lust for money, power, sex, escape, food, importance and stature, all blooming full in varying degrees of each. In its lesser displays of desires immediately gratified, Vegas can entertain a tame or moderate sense of lust bringing an often enjoyable passion to a day or trip. The desire for great food, new shows, a little extra pocket cash and beautiful people are mainstays of human desire in a society that can afford them. I make it a habit to wonder about the very nature of things, as if to divine their unique characteristics into one definition. To that end I posit there's something more to Vegas than the electric sex of neon lights promising orgasmic payouts from the loosest slots. A brief scan of American television programming should dispel all question about our need for Vegas to exist and can even give a glimpse as to the nature of the role that Vegas serves for us, as a nation. Vegas is, as I can see, America's DIY, personalized reality show. It has all the makings for it, easy access to: risk, sex, food, and other people blindly seeking the same thing in close confines of each other. Is your life missing a spot of drama? Need to invent a little fury, chaos, joy or sadness to make meaning out of Life? Perhaps you need to create an obstacle and then overcome it? Vegas baby... In Vegas, you star in your own reality show, YouTV. For most people visiting Sin City, one episode on YouTV is gambling.

Personally, I hate gambling. Hate it. With a roiling, intrinsic fury I hate gambling. I hate the uncertainty. No... that's not true. I hate the certainty that I'm going to lose my money. After even a cursory review of 'the odds' at winning in Vegas, I can not spend my money on that. I have nothing against gambling in a moral sense. Gambling is nothing where there is no one to act on it. Gambling is just one of those things that people praise when it pays out and scorn when it runs them dry. I am no fickle friend to gambling. I am no friend at all to it, except I guess for my $3. I was staying at the Treasure Island hotel last week, on official business for work. During my stay I did approach and court a slot machine, one among many of the herd of silly play toys. This being my first forray into gambling I learned a few things real quick. First, as you approach a slot machine you run the gauntlet of the slot machine's manipulative foreplay: the casino floor. The casino is designed to keep you in. There are no clocks on the walls. All clocks are swept clean from even the memory of the casino floor. Bright colors, fight for your attention over the flashing lights and clamour of almost winners so close to winning they come close to blowing their load of cash on the very next bet. For slightly serious gamblers and beyond, the alcohol is free and delivered by women in short skirts; that's a one-two punch: a pair of gams delivering the happy juice. With ample inebriation and disorientation, the casino has you set up for the slot machine to knock you down. Slot machines are jealous, joyless bitches. They wear the prettiest faces, tease man and woman alike, sound bells of conciliatory odds in place of guaranteed payouts and create an aura of pretty, shiny, want-to-touch. The draw is visceral. But like a toxic lover, former or current, the payout is almost never worth the time and money invested.
Despite, or because of, this amazing stigma and sacred place our society has for Vegas, and gambling in Vegas, I decided to partake, to test the waters and have an experience I had not had before. I sat down at a slot machine. I don't remember which one but only vaguely where it is in relation to the elevator bank at the edge of the casino floor. I had three dollars and decided I wasn't going to waste my time on chump change bets. None of that coin crap for this high-roller. I was going to bet all three dollars in one place because I wanted the bigger payout, and wanted to get to sleep faster. So, I found one that took dollar bets, added my three and pushed the button. I remember for a brief moment looking for directions and guidance on how the payout scheme works, and how to tell if I'd won. I learned that any cash payout above $1500 has to be handled at the change counter and is not paid out in a flood of canvas bags each with well worn dollar signs on them. My gambling experience was a comedic non-event. These are the exact steps of my gambling experience:
1. read directions
2. look for place to insert money
3. insert money
4. push button
5. go back to bed.
Within five seconds of pushing the "GAMBLE ALL THREE DOLLARS YOU CRAZY TEXAN" button the machine went silent without performing any magical feat of pulling money out of thin air, from behind my ear, or even from it's own money tray. So it sat, lights flashing, sounds abuzzing beckoning the next taker to place their bets. It's like the machine didn't even notice me sitting there. There was no hug or even a hint of a shoulder shrug or 'keep your chin up champ' speech. As easily as I was forgotten from the machine's cognition I started chuckling to myself. What was I expecting after all? I gave a machine money with no pre-arranged agreement in place that it would return all, part or more than I had given it. Like a terrible lover, it took my money without blinking and made not even a motion to console me. So, in this episode of my DIY Reality Show, I bet it all and had nothing to show for it. Drama.

The Luxury Hotels
Vegas is enormous and yet all the enormity is encompassed in a small section of a small city. I say Vegas is enormous because when experienced from what appears to be the most locally common form of transportation, the human foot, The Strip stretches on beyond normal limits of the human attention span. Impeding the limits of the human attention span is the intricacy and planning and partially comendable skullduggery with which each blaring speaker, neon sign, lewd poster, flashing marquee, outdoor coverband, and alcohol vendor is placed. But forgive me, these are just the intruding sights to see at ground level. Look above street level and you'll fall humble or greedy at the colorful, windowed mountains sitting idly, bright and gaudy yet all the while immovable and silent. They are as mountains built to reflect our desires and our deepest wishes while being just as out of reach to us as those same desires and wishes. You can see the mountain tops and even walk to its street-corner base and as long as you remain at the base you'll never be able to reach the top of the mountain. You could crane your head, squint an eye and hold your arms in a position just so and from that one very specific and limited view you could say you've reached the top and achieved your dreams and yet in the next minute when you close your hand around the mountain to embrace your moment you'll capture naught but air and an invented memory of greatness. These mountains of Vegas are the luxury hotels.

Try as hard as the bohemian, anti-establishment sentiments of artists may, art will always follow money. Vegas is a strong, proud and jaw slackening example of how art thrives in a culture of money. I hope to return to Vegas numerous times to witness more of this in its highly unexpected manifestations. The one place I was able to see art thrive beyond mere means of survival was at The Wynn, and specifically at bar / lounge combination of the Parasol Down and the Parasol Up.
The Parasol Down is a delightfully enchanting bar sitting in a nook surrounded on either side by grand circular stairs. In an attempt to describe the Parasol Down in a sentence or, to be succinct about the environment created by Parasol Down; It is a vivid explosion, in red, of Victorian decor sensibilities, magnified by the vibrancy of the world through a child's eyes and nestled in a private nook between two grand staircases. If you do believe in, at least the possibility of, a world slightly removed from our own and wonderously inexplicable, the Parasol Down is surely then a mirror to a world whose heart beats with a living imagination. Above the grand stairs, in anticipation of rain that will never come or an unexpected precipitation of fabulous, hang gargantuan parasols of bright colors, shapes and designs. Imagine the color and heart of Seuss with the fantastic imaginings of Tim Burton; these are the great parasols that mark the bar / lounge combo. The Parasol Down creates an ambiance bigger than its square footage and is certainly a place I'll be returning to when next I visit Las Vegas. The Parasol Up, at the top of the dual, grand, circular stairs, is a lounge in the same style and serves at the conduit from / to the gambling floor. As you journey beyond the Parasol Up toward the exits here you'll find artistry as well in the mosaic floors, select botany and vivid lights.

Path through Vegas to the Other Side and a Final Olfactory Comment
With enough sobriety, when the casino floor and the slot machines can be seen for something other than their anticipated fiscal rewards, Vegas is fun. Having an appropriate sense of the clear chasms that await anyone who falls from their own grace, is one way to ensure your safe passage through. If you go gambling: never carry your debit/credit card on you, bring your own watch or timer, bring only an amount of cash you are comfortable with losing and assume it is lost before you start playing, bring friends with you who pay their bills on time and successfully manage their debt to income ratio. Vegas can be a lot of fun.

Oh yeah, Vegas sometimes smells like strippers and despair.

Friday, April 1, 2011

45 Minutes for April Fool's Day

After taking informal surveys from a few readers, it seems that perhaps my April Fool's Day joke was shrouded in too much research, or too many words. What follows is a defense of my joke meant more to explain that my article was indeed a joke. In this defense I'll even be pointing out where the comedy is.

In order to explain the comedy I'll list what was fact:

#1. Fact: The first paragraph is entirely false
#2. Residents did, in fact, send in postcards to a Haight community betterment association. These residents also sent in postcards asking for a 45 minute timezone offset. This much is true. The call was for residents to send in ideas to make The Haight an even better place to live.
#2.a. I know all three people who sent in postcards on behalf of a new timezone. Only one of them was a resident of SF in his youth, but not of The Haight. The second person was his wife, and the third person was a mutual friend of the two
#3. The Haight is a trendy neighborhood in San Francisco.
#4. That creepy bunny in the photograph is an actual art piece sitting approximately 3 feet above the sidewalk and standing roughly 3.5 feet tall.
#5. Edwin M. Lee is the current mayor of SF and was actually appointed mayor by the San Francsico Board of Supervisors in January 2011, after Gavin Newsom became Lieutenant Governor of California
#6. Certain Bay Area communities actually target the gay community through means of entrapment via night sting operations in public parks.
#7. California is a majority Republican state
#8. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 is real and it does provide local exemptions for daylight savings observances
#8.a. I have no idea if there's a loophole that would allow any part of the US to create their own timezone
#9. There is no international governing body for time zone regulation
#10. Gary, IN does share the CST with Chicago.
#10.a. People are pretty sure why this is the case.
#11. Turn of the century San Francisco (before the great quake) was a dominating industrial, agricultural and economic force in the state and country.
#11.a. The quake changed San Francisco's future permanently
#12. The Standard Time Act of 1918 is real
#12.a. Before this legislation, Railroads were the governing forces behind standardizing time across the nation. Before trains, no one could travel fast enough across the country to require a standardized time. All clocks were set by the timing of solar noon.
#13. I once saw the remnants of a Chinese New Year parade.  I saw these remnants at night.
#14. I'm pretty sure many people regard Rep. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as a horse's ass.
#14.a. I'm pretty sure many people are proud to be represented by him as well.
#15. Jean Quan is the mayor of Oakland.
#15.a. She is the first Asian American, and first female mayor of Oakland.
#15.b. Oakland is the 6th largest city in the US
#15.c. A Wikipedia article says she's a Democrat
#16. Windows 7 is an operating system
#16.a. It has been known to find new hardware though none has been installed
#16.b. It will nag you to install updates
#16.c. it will force close all applications in order to restart and install new updates
#16.d. You will lose data when it force closes applications to install new updates and restart
#17. Marc Copage was a child actor and was in the 1960's TV show "Julia"

If it's not listed above, then it ain't true.

The Jokes... those funny, funny jokes...
#1. That any city would adopt a timezone that is: a) applied only to the city and not the rest of the state, and b) that is an amount of time as odd as 45 minutes off... totally hilarious.
#2. Nasbatz... I love funny acronyms
#3. I'm pretty sure people wouldn't look to San Francisco as a place to take the moral high ground
#4. My friends and I really did write post cards to a Haight community betterment association, demanding that The Haight start its own timezone.
#4.a. We did this to help give credence to this April Fool's day joke
#4.b. We really did mail them to the Haight betterment association
#4.c. They were postage paid so it seemed like such a waste not to send them
#4.d. We sent them in over a month ago... he he he
#5. Mayor Edwin Lee's "voluminous political teet." I giggled the whole way through that section.
#6. Mayor Edwin Lee could never have passed as Marc Copage...

Edwin M. Lee: from Wikipedia

Marc Copage (right): from

#7. That any populist rallying slogan printed on t-shirts, banners, store fronts would be as verbose as: "The Bay Area Conglomerated Cities and Municipalities are at the Height of their Combined Fortitude when the Leadership of Aforementioned Cities and Municipalities are Ratified to Unify On the Nasbatz Legislation"
#8. Teabaggers, Indibaggers and Massbaggers. That's just funny.
#8.a. I considered other states: Illbaggers, Mainebaggers, Carolbaggers, Pennsylbaggers, Arkbaggers
#8.b. Some states just didn't lend themselved well to this joke: NewYorkbaggers, Vermontbaggers, Floribaggers, Louisibaggers
#9. Though a potshot, and low hanging fruit in the joke tree, the characiturization of a teabagger was preposterous enough to be comical... I think.
#9.a. The icing on the cake in this charicaturization is the reference to "Mr." instead of "President" Obama.
#10. Timebaggers? That's just ridiculous... and therefore funny.
#11. The construction of a completely faricated history of Asian Immigrant practices to maintain time with their homelands.
#11.a. I have no proof that this happened, nor any proof that it didn't.
#12. I wish my description of dealing with Windows was more fictional. Certainly a computer can't defecate its source code from USB ports, yet.

So, that's about it.
Thanks for reading.
Sleep well.
No more jokes.

45 Minutes for San Francisco

This article has been reposted from a previously posted article about a crazy new time zone that's supposed to start, tomorrow, in San Francisco!

:45m for San Francisco
AP - Reuters

"45 minutes for San Francisco" is the latest political cry to sweep through San Francisco, California, and even some state's rights advocates throughout the country. In a surprising move that shocked the California political system today, the City of San Francisco will begin observing it's own time zone. With the surprising support of the California Senate, starting today, San Francisco and most of the surrounding Bay cities will be changing their clocks to the North American Standard Bay Area Time Zone (Nasbatz). This new time zone will place San Francisco, and the whole Bay Area, an additional 45 minutes behind PST.  How this shift will impact the financial and political landscape of California and our nation has yet to be seen. Many Californians were surprised by the eleventh hour push from the state legislature to enact Nasbatz. Some citizens were even unaware that Nasbatz was on the ballot. When asked to comment on why the new time zone legislation was pushed through, the general consensus among lawmakers presents a unified voice: "San Francisco needs to set a new moral standard that all Californians can be proud of. While Hollywood and Los Angeles have had decades to set this standard, the Bay Area Communities feel now is the time to proudly move forward for a better California. Step one is to further separate ourselves, in time, from our misguided brothers and sisters in the South of California. Let them continue playing with cameras while we get to business."

What started out as an innocuous series of mailings to a neighborhood suggestion poll, multiple residents initially urged the Haight (a trendy neighborhood in San Francisco) to create a new time zone 45 minutes behind the current Pacific Standard Time. Eventually this local demand caught public support, spreading like wildfire to the mayor's desks for multiple Bay Area cities: Vallejo, Berklee, San Francisco, Hayward, Redwood, Marin County, Sausalito, Palo Alto, San Jose, San Rafael and San Mateo. The Haight, long known for its bleeding edge intellectualism, and socially progressive leadership, is the home to this newest political call to action.

The Haight has always been an exceptional source of socio-political leaders for the bay area communities.

Eventually spearheaded by San Francisco's mayor, Edwin M. Lee initially took this fledgling community movement and let it suckle at his political teet until it could stand on its own. Though it can be easily observed that under the tutelage of Mayor Lee's voluminous teet Nasbatz legislation grew to  public prominence, some suggest there exists a more self-serving motivation behind Mayor Lee's voluntary teet nursing of Nasbatz.  Appointed just a few months ago, by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Edwin M. Lee was promoted to Mayor of the city in January 2011. Mayor Lee's earlier political endeavors have to date been, at best, modestly documented. As of the date of publication of this article, it cannot be confirmed nor denied that Edwin M. Lee was working under the stage name "Marc Copage" on the 1960's TV show "Julia." In an attempt to fill the well worn shoes of previous San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom, Mayor Lee stated that "I am a big boy now and can legislate all by myself." Some San Francisco citizens are wondering if this new time zone legislation is an attempt to secure the seat of San Francisco mayor, or if he is truly working on behalf of the City by the Bay. Said one San Francisco native: "Any mayor that frees us from the stigma of that Hollywood s__hole in So Cal is totally the mayor for me." Mayor Lee has held many discrete meetings with other mayors from the Bay Area cities, calling on their support to create a unified local government voice. An unidentified source credits Mayor Lee with the populist rallying slogan printed on t-shirts, banners, store fronts seen throughout the Bay Cities: "The Bay Area Conglomerated Cities and Municipalities are at the Height of their Combined Fortitude when the Leadership of Aforementioned Cities and Municipalities are Ratified to Unify On the Nasbatz Legislation."

Strong support for the Nasbatz legislation came from the Bay Area's LBGT community (BALBGT). To date, some of the Bay Area police forces still practice harsh entrapment policies by way of public sting operations, focused on the LBGT community. These operations are held at night in public parks. BALBGT claims that these illegal entrapment practices will be easier to spot with the additional 45 minutes of daylight. While the "45 minutes for San Francisco" slogan is the most predominant, and the "The Bay Area Conglomerated Cities and Municipalities are at the Height of their Combined Fortitude when the Leadership of Aforementioned Cities and Municipalities are Ratified to Unify On the Nasbatz Legislation"slogan is a close second among citizens, BALBGT has adopted their own variation: "45 minutes for Justice."

In terms of public support, California Legislatures are appealing to their largely Republican base in order to garner public support for the Nasbatz legislation. While California passed the law recently, It is set to take effect today at 12:45a when the time in the Bay Cities will reset to midnight. Statewide lawmakers realize the relative difficulty in passing muster on a national level. To preemptively subvert the anticipated political fallout, The state's defense of the NASBAT time zone is a two pronged offensive: a call to state's rights and an unseen loophole in the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which allows for local exemptions from DST observance.

Teabaggers unite for "State's Rights." 
Throughout the state, and even into the national political theater, Teabaggers are rallying behind this is as a clarion call to unify support for state's rights. Teabaggers from as far as Indiana (Indibaggers) and Massachusetts (Massbaggers) have planned multiple public, political sit-ins. Said one Massbagger, "You know, we're just hear doing our part to support the Constitutionally mandated rights of the individual states. This is just another attempt for our illegitimate president to push his socialist agenda on the working men and women of this great country ordained by God himself. We've brought our signs and are ready to make a raucous. You can see where my 5 year old drew a thin mustache on Mr. Obama."

Historical Precedence
There is no international governing body regulating the use, procurement and enforcement of time zones. This has made the adoption of new and creative time zones a simple matter for most nations. Even in the United States, various segments of the US adopt time zones which are counter intuitive to their geographical location. Further to the point of the San Francisco natives in favor of the new time zone (Timebaggers), the state of Indiana has segmented its time zones along political boundaries. Indianapolis and as far north as West Lafayette are situated in EST, while Gary is in CST with the rest of Chicago. Why Chicago has embraced Gary when Indiana hasn't is a curious political question which is still unresolved. Beyond these localized situations of time zone offsets, San Francisco's history with time zones is more colorful than is remembered in modern times.
The city's first discussion of time zone change started as early as the beginning of the 20th century. At the time, San Francisco was establishing its financial and political dominance in the area through its agriculture, mining and shipping connections to Pacific nations. Many of the city's Asian immigrants kept time with their town, regions or nations of birth. Even as late as 10 years after the ratification of the Standard Time Act of 1918. They maintained this temporal similarity to keep cultural ties and practices with their relatives and business associates across the Pacific. This separation of time across strict cultural lines created two distinct day cycles in the city. One day cycle was the standard day practiced by Caucasian Americans and was originally set closely to the solar time zone and eventually to PST. The second day cycle of the Asian Immigrant class almost completely reversed day for night. This large disparity in day cycles effectively created and allowed for the near unchecked propagation of San Francisco's thriving underworld and black market. While most Caucasian Americans slept during the night, some would find back alley opium dens and brothels which were open through most of the night. Though modern times have unified the day cycles into what was PST and is now NASBAT, Chinese New Year parades in San Francisco still last well into the night.

Political Opposition Responses
Mitch McConnell (R-KY), often understood to be a general horse's ass, had this to say on the matter: "This legislation once again shows the audacity of tax and spend liberals too lazy to wake up with the rest of an already lazy time zone. How will this new legislation reflect on our troops who are fighting wars abroad? This is a time to send our support to the fighting men and women of our US military. I have it on good authority that the soft on defense liberals have encumbered an otherwise conservative and law-abiding state. What the hell is a Nasbatz anyway?" Asked Rep King (R-NY), "What's the Islamic population percentage of The Bay Area?"
Jean Quan (D), mayor of Oakland, has opted to keep Oakland out of the effect of the new Nasbatz legislation, seeing the adoption of a new time zone as a possible rift inside the state. Specifically, Mayor Quan stated that her "city is an industrial and economic linchpin and has more important things to worry about than the bickering between Los Angeles and San Francisco."

The letters that started it all. 
     At time of publication, the editors at AP - Reuters were able to attain a selection of the letters from the original Haight Neighborhood letter writing campaign. These letters are being posted here.

Software Updates
In order to ready their user base, both Apple and Microsoft are expected to roll out operating system updates allowing for the new time zone NASBAT. While Apple's update is expected to be released under the name of an uncommon East Asian Panther species coated in an air of tragic coolness, the Windows update will require users to run the update as an administrator, asking when they'd like to be reminded to restart Windows every 5 - 10 minutes eventually nagging the user into submission wherein the OS will force close all applications before users have time to save their data. It is expected 1 in 8 Windows 7 systems will indicate new hardware is found, subsequently informing users they have 30 days to purchase a license for the new Windows 7 NASBAT time zone operating system update for the new time zone update operating system update system. Earlier versions of Windows operating systems will merely defecate source code out the computer's USB ports.