BOSTON (CBS) – So last week I hung out with baseball legend Pete Rose, blue-collar comedian Bill Engvall, long-time boxers Ken Norton, Earnie Shavers and Leon Spinks, and saw athlete-turned-entertainer Mike Tyson. Oh, and Jay-Z and Kanye West were in town.
What’d you do?
That’s right, folks, I took my first trip to the Sin City. Believe it or not, I’d never been. At the ripe old age of 29, a Las Vegas virgin…unless you count changing planes once. Me either.
Most of you reading this have probably been, but I didn’t really know what to expect. To get excited, I kept thinking about what I figure most people envision when dreaming up their Vegas adventure. You know, The Hangover, Swingers, Vegas Vacation and Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas. What else is there?
The flight from Boston took just over five hours. The positives, it was direct and got me there in one piece. The negatives, the guy next to me thought he was a stand-up comic and I managed to have the only personal TV on the flight to crap the bed. That jet blew.
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When we landed, I immediately started studying my surroundings. Much to my dismay, no paydies in sight. You may also know them as pay-ladies (or escorts). I didn’t want one, of course. I’m a happily married guy. I just wanted to see them work their magic on some of the other tourists.
After checking into the room, I took a stroll on the strip. Within five minutes of walking the street, I had three underground rap CD’s, two free passes to dance clubs and a deck of playing cards, but I don’t think you could play “Go Fish” with these cards. There were even women and children handing these things out. My mom would not approve. Plus, you know you’re getting old when you look at those cards and one of your first thoughts is: that’s someone’s daughter on there. It made me think of Chris Rock’s routine about keeping his girls off the pole.
Someone was also selling tickets for “naked midget mud wrestling.” The entertainment capital of the world, indeed.
I walked into a sports book to check out the scene. I’m not much of a gambler, to be honest. I’m not savvy enough to play cards and the slots feel like a robbery with bright lights. Betting on games – I can wrap my head around that, but didn’t have the spare cash.
Some guys at the book were sitting around talking about the Patriots and how they puked on the Indy spread. That somehow led to a spirited chat about Chad Ochocinco. I tried to explain my theory that he shut it down after drafting Wes Welker to his fantasy football team. It’s just the only explanation I’ll accept.
Then we discussed some of the other logical talking points in Boston sports. Would the Celts deal Rajon Rondo for Chris Paul if he refused an extension but agreed to babysit Danny Ainge’s grandkids? Did Tyler Seguin skip the Bruins’ team meal in Winnipeg because he didn’t like the food selection? And, is this trade of Terry Francona for Bobby Valentine between the Red Sox and ESPN actually just a new reality body switch show on Bravo?
I won’t go into all the details of my three-day excursion to Vegas, but this place was fascinating.
Where else do people not just like, but love, Carrot Top? Where else do you find people lying on the street dressed as drunken cartoon characters, willing to pose for pictures? Where else can you go into a reputable store in a ritzy mall, ignore a price tag and negotiate what you’d feel comfortable paying? Where else can you find the Eiffel Tower down the street from the Statue of Liberty? Where else can you find a four-floor store that sells nothing but M&M paraphernalia? Where else can you ask if you’re at the real Caesar’s Palace, and did Caesar really live there? And, where else can you stand on a street yelling, “No Whammy!” and nobody looks at you funny?
Plus, where else is it easier to see signs for services that send girls to your room within 20 minutes than to find a street sign of what block you’re on? Where else can you get a free bottle of beer from a pretty lady for putting a quarter in a slot machine? Where else can you find out what Marc Savard’s been up to since injuries forced him out of hockey? And, where else could you run into Tyson, Engvall, Rose, Norton, Shavers, Spinks, Kanye, Jay-Z, Carrot Top, Celine Dion and even Ron White, all within about a mile stretch of one another. If you said, “the filming of New Year’s Eve,” touché.
That’s right, tons of celebs. Just to clear that up, I saw all the boxers at a celebrity signing. Iron Mike was the big draw you’d expect. His security was fierce if you weren’t buying something, but I snapped a picture or two.
Shavers and the gang couldn’t have been nicer or more talkative, though Norton and Spinks were a little slow-spoken. Admittedly, I was disheartened when I realized that it was Michael Spinks, not Leon, who Jean-Claude Van Damme referred to in Timecop. I digress.
Controversial Pete, all 70 years of him, was doing his thing, which these days is signing lots of merchandise and readily admitting to betting on baseball if you bought his stuff.
Engvall put on a good show, and then invited the audience out for drinks across the street. Shame I didn’t see his buddy Ron White – his show was the night I left. Jay-Z and Kanye were just sold out.
Beyond all that, I did the touristy tour. There wasn’t a hotel I didn’t photograph, a lobby I didn’t see, or a casino I didn’t walk through. All of this came courtesy of a boy’s trip with my dad, and I cannot begin to thank him for the enormity of his generosity throughout our vacation. That sentence in and of itself is an understatement.
Sadly, however, I had to cut our trip short at three days to take a red-eye home Friday night. You see, I had a bachelor party to attend at Mohegan Sun Saturday night.
So, if you’re reading this and asking, “Hey Adam, were you at the Bellagio and Mohegan within 13 hours of each other,” then the answer is yes. I know it looks crazy on paper, but David Stern didn’t veto it or anything.
Adam Kaufman, a native of Massachusetts, joined the Sports Hub as an on-air personality in June 2011. He has worked as a television and radio anchor and broadcaster for various outlets since 2004, and his written views on sports and entertainment have appeared on NESN.com and in the New England Hockey Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamMKaufman.