MY GRINDING EXILE FROM LAS VEGAS will end this coming June. After a delay from a return visit that began as a voluntary money-generating 2007 pause, which became mandatory in November 2006 when I got word that I'd be laid off in four months' time, my reentry into Sin City has, at last, been plotted.
One bit of good news facilitating the trip is that we've had success in making the first new hire in the Central City office. By the end of this month, I'll have a new editor-in-chief, as long as the person doesn't freak and back out. Though there will be an extended transition period between my current and future managing editors (MEs), and also some effort to bring this April hire (who will be my immediate boss) up to speed, having any help with production and editing will be most welcome.
To digress, the April issue went to press a week ago, three days sooner than the March one — and with the same staff. We had to cut a couple of articles for space purposes, which saved me writing time . . . which I ended up needed after 5:00 that day, when I cranked out two short columns in 40 minutes to complete the issue and get it out the door. I had a ton of well-timed help from the ME — with whom, I realize, I can actually work well in a fast-moving situation, far more easily than my former coworkers could — and our artist, who bounced everything we gave him out to prepress as soon as it hit his desk. By closing the issue Wednesday night, we dodged a huge markup on postage fees, which we'd only found out about that previous Monday. For avoiding this overcharge, the ME graciously gave the artist and me giftcards this week to thank us for our diligence. (She was particularly stunned I was able to pump out those two stories in such short notice. I hope the amazement carries forward onto my review!)
I think the measures I took after the chest pains a month and change ago to get the April issue launched earlier, and all parties concerned on board with what needed to be done in light of the short staff, were key to shaving three days off the schedule. We may be able to keep that momentum for the May issue; the content we bumped from April to May gave me a head start, and I've turned over a number of items to the artist thus far this week. I felt comfortable enough to book a personal day for next Thursday to put in some volunteer work down at WFMU.
But most important, I feel like I will have the freedom to return to my usual summer habit of spending a long week in Las Vegas.
I was shocked, when I booked the flight a few weeks ago, at how cheap it was. This was around when crude oil spurted past $100/barrel. I had expected Continental to have tacked on a fuel surcharge of anywhere from $20 to $50. Not so; with the fees and terror tax tacked on, $260 round trip from Newark. That's cheaper than a few years back. I guess the fuel-arbitrage desk at Continental HQ is earning its keep.
Besides, I had a better use for the leftover money:
That's right. I've had enough of waiting for $39/$69 mail offers from the Golden Nugget or staying at the oddly smelling Plaza in Downtown to save a few extra bux for a rental car. I took 2007 off for a reason: to save bread for a full hotel experience. I can think of few better places to do so than Steve Wynn's mad chocolate Death Star in the desert.
I've stayed in very nice chain hotels — the Doubletree properties in Philadelphia and Chicago, and a particularly attractive Hyatt in Morristown, NJ, for a wedding — and the rooms I had at the Golden Nugget and the Flamingo in Vegas were quite serviceable. But I am seeking an enveloping escape. I've walked through Wynn a number of times in past visits, and if the rooms are anything like the casino and other public areas, I should be all set.
I also wouldn't mind picking up a few of these from the Wynn Poker Room —
— or perhaps their red-hued $5 cousins. I'll see what I can do. I didn't tie myself down to the 6 hours the poker room would've wanted to get a discounted room, as the competition there is supposed to be tough. I want the freedom to rove around to other poker rooms and not be forced to grind it out at Wynn, which altogether makes the game more like a job. And that is precisely the one word I don't want to use while out in Vegas.
So I will spend the next two months or so in a mounting frenzy, with the liberating plane flight drawing closer with agonizing slothfulness, with the glowing reward of Las Vegas awaiting me seemingly just out of reach. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to it.