By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
By the time Rotty arrives, around 11:30, I’m basted and babbling into my portable audio recorder: “The whole cacophony-seduction is lost on me. I do not know the sportsbook’s secrets, nor those of Lucky Larry’s Shrimpmania slot machines. Cigarette girls in red-and-black vinyl uniforms. Tobacconatrix? I understood the appeal of Old Vegas: Give the casinos your money, they give you cheap room and board — 99-cent shrimp cocktails at 4 a.m., $2.95 steak and eggs in the afternoon. That’s all Las Vegas ever was. Where the fuck are we? Will we still do this in our 80s?”
“Shoma, what are you doing?” Rotty has also aged well, with a full head of hair and a ruddy complexion.
“What? I’m talking into my recording device.”
“We’re heading up to the Ghostbar. You going?”
“Yeah,” I say. “That sounds horrible. Let’s go.”
Ghostbar: Overblown subwoofing discomaniacal black-light den filled with lowbrow 20-something pop-culture knockoffs, modeling at one another on the 55th floor. What are Dungeonites doing here? Has it come to this? I’d have preferred a Motel 6 in Fontana, camping in the Rockies, harvesting sugar beets with the Gururumba in the highlands of New Guinea. Given Vegas, I’d have preferred some Dungeony dive — the Gold Coast across the street has a 70-lane bowling alley, for example.
The Ghostbar has a balcony, though, and the wind blows mighty. Never have I stood in such a wind, so high, so basted.
“Good evening, digital recording device. We’re out on the fucking 55th-floor balcony. The wind is blowing at 640 mph — about 556 knots. What you hear ruining the sound of the wind is some fucking ridiculous remix of AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black,’ our old Dungeon theme song. This pop cash-register version is about to make me spew. Not that ‘Back in Black’ was art, but it was at least sincere. Good evening.”
We mill about the hideous, packed sprawl of a bar. It’s too loud to talk. As I down my fourth post-flask beer — bringing the night’s total to 10 drinks — I realize that I’ve forgotten something important: I forgot to eat.
No single activity better defines Las Vegas to me than the act of vomiting. Vomiting at 6 a.m. with the loud moron neighbors back at it after just a two-hour intermission. Their parting words, at 4 a.m.: “Dude, I’m going back down!” “That chick was hot!” “Dude, hold it down!” “Dude, shut up!” “No way, dude! This is fuckin’ Vegas! YAOW!” “Shut up, man! There’s a dude at the door!”
As the room spins, I recall that Dykstra Hall had amazing sonic insulation. And that, even basted, we were considerate about making with the high-volume activities when others were studying. Or at least, that’s how I remember it.
Haven’t had this much to drink in a decade, but if these fuckers will stay quiet for 20 minutes, I should be able to sleep it off . . .
Three loud knocks on my door. In my boxers, I receive the report from security: “We’ve had multiple complaints. They’ve agreed to shut up and go to sleep.”
But only for two hours. At 6 a.m., I jolt awake to their extremely loud revelation, “Dude! We should totally order eggs Benedict from room service!”
“Totally!”Soon the party revs up to full throttle again, and this time I’m also contending with pounding, spinning residual images of eggs Benedict.
I dash for the bathroom. If the Palms had thick Dungeon walls, the toilet and I wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Carrillo, A.K.A. the dawg,probably would’ve been playing football for UCLA — he was a star in high school — if he hadn’t been shot in the back in a hunting accident. Carrillo’s fuckin’ huge: 6-foot-4, with a chest like a tailgate and a head that’s as big around as my waist. His legs are rails. Rarely, Carrillo will rise from his chair and prop himself up on crutches, just to scare the crap out of everyone; just as an excuse to let loose with one of his trademark bellowing MWAH-HA-HA-HAAAH!!monster laughs, which he often implements to herald his impending arrival from great distances.
Carrillo’s also an exceptional visual artist, and chooses his canvases wisely. Most of our front doors have write-on/wipe-off note boards. Carrillo rolls room to room, early in the morning or late at night, and draws a character named Mr. (Knute) Knarley on random doors.
Mr. Knarley was a gleeful, disembodied, piratelike head, somewhere between a skull and a light bulb in shape, and Dick Dastardly (Penelope Pitstop) and Mask Man (Thank You, Mask Man) in countenance. Of his dozens of deeply disturbing facial features, most admired was Mr. Knarley’s earring: an identical Mr. Knarley in miniature, dangling from the host Knarley’s earlobe. If you dared to look closely, you’d discover that Mr. Earring Knarley in turn hosted Mr. Subsequent Earring Knarley. And so on, ad microscopium.
—L.A. Weekly, February 11, 2000
It’s considered an honor to wake up in 1981 and find one’s door graced with a fresh Mr. Knarley. Something like finding an Easter egg under the Christmas tree.
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