2009: A year in review
Not because we want to. Because we have to. It’s been that kind of a year.
Thu, Dec 24, 2009 (midnight)
BEST THING ABOUT 2009
There’s still a whole week to turn this thing around.
WAS JOHN BARR OUT OF TOWN THAT WEEK?
In a “smartest-cities” survey published on the website The Daily Beast, Las Vegas ranks 54th out of 55.
WE WERE 53rd UNTIL THIS
Criss Angel calls a Twittering Perez Hilton a “douchebag” during a performance of Believe in April.
WHEN THE DAILY BEAST COMPILES THAT LIST, LAS VEGAS IS GOING TO KICK ASS
Las Vegas police and prosecutors begin campaign to keep repeat prostitution offenders off the Strip, using a list called the 50 “most prolific prostitutes.”
THE SOONER THE BETTER, TOO
At a health-care reform town hall at Stoney’s in August, one attendee cried out, “I want to die in a democratic republic!”
AND BY “ANYBODY,” OF COURSE, I MEAN GAY PEOPLE”
Carrie Prejean answers Perez Hilton’s question about gay marriage during the Miss USA Pageant at Planet Hollywood in April by responding, “I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there.”
PHRASES OF THE YEAR
“Short, fat Bette Midler”
“Cash for clunkers”
“Whose fucking baby is that?”
“I regret these transgressions with all my heart.”
MOST BRAINLESSLY RETASKED PHRASE OF THE YEAR
TEACHABLE MOMENTS OF 2009
• During a June show at the Orleans, Patti LuPone stops her show to berate an audience member who’s sending a text. (Lesson: Don’t piss off Patti LuPone.)
• Realtor Brooke Boemio reveals to Time magazine that she unashamedly has homeowners buy cheaper houses and then just let their other home go into foreclosure (Lesson: Don’t piss off the community you live in.)
• Parents of students at Green Valley High School sue the school in November, trying to stop production of The Laramie Project and Rent, shows with gay themes. The suit is dismissed. (Lesson: Don’t piss off the courts with frivolous suits.)
• Tax problems force actor Nic Cage to sell his $10 million Vegas estate. (Lesson: Don’t piss off moviegoers.)
• Las Vegan Byren Stuckey is charged with “injury to other property,” a misdemeanor, after putting sardines soaked in his own urine in a bank safety-deposit box, because the bank had earlier frozen his account. (Lesson: Don’t piss off a bank—especially with your own piss.)
WAIT, I WASN’T READY TO LEAVE THE BUILDING!
Trent Carlini opens, quickly closes an Elvis show at Planet Hollywood.
GOOD THING HE DIDN’T OPEN A TRENT CARLINI SHOW
2009 was the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ long-running show at the International (later renamed the Las Vegas Hilton).
AND NOTHING REMINDS US OF THAT LIKE THE WHOLESOME SIGHT OF GUBERNATORIAL SKIRT-CHASING
Jim Gibbons, in pleading with President Obama in May to encourage more people to come to Las Vegas: “Sometimes Washington politicians forget that the people of Nevada are Americans.”
APPALLING NUMBERS OF 2009
48: Bills Gov. Gibbons vetoed during the 2009 legislative session (25 of those were overturned)
$50 million: The price tag on Oscar Goodman’s proposed mob museum
6: Percent pay cut proposed by Gov. Gibbons for all state employees (lawmakers rejected it)
36: Percentage of budget cuts proposed for higher education by Jim Gibbons (legislators finally agreed on a 12.5 percent cut)
17.3: Percentage of office space vacancy rates as of January, the highest level on record
14,000: Number of signatures turned in by the Culinary Local 226 opposing the new city hall, far more than the 4,500 required to put the matter to a public vote. Mayor Oscar Goodman says, “No matter what happens with the referendum, we’re going to go ahead.” (They did.)
1,000: Number of positions Clark County School District claims it would have to cut under Gov. Gibbons’ proposed cuts
13.1: Unemployment rate in August, the highest Las Vegas has ever recorded
$233 million: Amount a room tax increase is estimated to bring into Nevada over the next two years; so naturally, Gov. Jim Gibbons refused to sign it. (Big deal—it became a law anyway.)
21: Number of stories cut from the Harmon after construction problems were identified
70: Percent of Las Vegas homeowners underwater on their mortgages, according to a November report
APPALLING LETTER OF THE YEAR
D+: The grade Nevada got from the Children’s Advocacy Alliance for children’s safety, health and education.
AND STILL MORE ENTERTAINING THAN BITE
A bearded and overweight Joaquin Phoenix takes the stage at Lavo at Palazzo in January and launches into an unintelligible, rambling rap that ends with him falling off the stage. It’s quickly rumored to be a hoax.
BECAUSE SHE POSSESSES, IN ADDITION TO COMMON SENSE, A GAG REFLEX
Kelsey Karrasch, daughter of Kathy Karrasch, a woman Gov. Jim Gibbons is alleged to have had an affair with, declines an offer to sing the national anthem at Gibbons’ state of the state address in January.
LATER, IT WAS DISPLAYED IN CARSON CITY UNDER THE PSEUDONYM “GOVERNOR GIBBONS”
A T-Rex skeleton named Samson fails to be auctioned at the Venetian in October, when the minimum $3.6 million bid isn’t reached.
MORTGAGE BROKERS CAME IN A CLOSE SECOND
The Senate Government Affairs Committee, going on the recommendations of a group of fourth-graders, votes for a bill to make the vivid dancer damselfly the official state insect.
JUST ANOTHER POLITICAN TRYING TO PUT THE ECONOMIC BURDEN ON THE BACKS OF NEVADANS
During the 2009 Legislature, State Sen. Bob Coffin proposes taxing prostitution.
TOP FEUDS OF 2009
• Obama vs., well, just about anybody who’s anybody in Nevada. Mayor Oscar Goodman and Gov. Jim Gibbons got rankled at Obama’s now-infamous “don’t go to Las Vegas” speech to all those bailed-out companies, while Sen. John Ensign and casino mogul Steve Wynn opposed his stimulus package. This year’s sentiment to our 47th president from the Silver State appears to be, “Yes you can … bite me!”
• Harry Reid vs. the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Reid tossed off the line, “I hope you go out of business” to said paper, and said paper responded with the usual professionalism—calling Reid a big “asinine” bully.
• The Office’s Mindy Kaling vs. Luv-It Frozen Custard. Kaling was urged by Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson to try the popular dessert destination in Las Vegas, only to have Kaling return to the show and complain about how ugly the area was, not to mention its shady characters. While many Las Vegans were outraged at what was so obviously an attack on their fair city, others admitted, “On the other hand, it’s obvious she’s actually visited that area.”
• KVBC vs. all other Las Vegas TV stations. In a complaint filed with the FCC, KVBC alleged that other stations in the Valley were selling airtime within their newscasts and presenting it as legitimate news stories. The other stations were quick to counter with: “But Coca-Cola DOES give you bigger breasts!”
• Nina Radetich vs., uh, every journalistic ethic we can think of. Radetich is taken to task when it’s discovered that she not only called Tire Works to inform them that her station was working on a hidden-camera expose, but recommended the services of her boyfriend, who specializes in public relations, to help mitigate the damage. Inexplicably, she remains employed at the station.
• Time vs. Las Vegas. Joel Stein takes more than a few potshots at Sin City, including its failed housing market, abandoned projects and climbing unemployment rate, leading to a not-so-pleasant reaction from its citizenry and Mayor Oscar Goodman, who writes a letter to the magazine.
APPALLING QUOTES OF THE YEAR
• “So was Hitler at Buchenwald.” –Joan Rivers, when told by Donald Trump that poker player Annie Duke is nice, on the Celebrity Apprentice.
• “I think we are questioning competence right now.” – John Ensign, in challenging whether Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner should keep his job.
• “I’ve been talking to the Lord; the Lord said it was still all right for me to vote for it, so that’s what I’m gonna do.” –GOP Assemblyman John Carpenter on overriding GOV. Gibbons’ budget veto
• “Food intended for human consumption contaminated by human blood does not conform to an ordinary buyer’s expectations.” –Lawyer in the case of a local McDonald’s worker caught handling food with an open wound
• “You have to have a knife to their throat in a back alley to get money out of them.” –A lawyer in the Depak Desai case on suing pharmaceutical companies
• “Vegas will never in any foreseeable future be a serious art destination.” –Soured-on-Vegas art critic Dave Hickey, in March
• “Someday there will be consolidation. And then I will be the mayor of everything.” –Mayor Oscar Goodman
• “If I had a rating of 10 or 15 percent, I would think of not running.” –John Ensign on Gov. Gibbons
YES, A LIFETIME OF THERAPY BILLS IS MUCH, MUCH PREFERABLE
Las Vegas man Robert Blue is arrested after police discover he had beat and chained his 15-year-old daughter because he thought she was overweight.
THAT’S RIGHT (WINK), GOOD NEIGHBORS (WINK)
In November, arts district business owners rally to prevent an Econo-Lodge from extending guest stays to more than 28 days, afterward striking a conciliatory tone. Says one, “We certainly want to be good neighbors.”
REASONS JOHN ENSIGN MIGHT WANT A DO-OVER FOR 2009
• Not supporting Obama’s $800 billion-plus stimulus bill.
• Getting caught having an affair with an ex-staffer’s wife.
• Having his parents write a $96,000 check to his ex-mistress’ husband.
• Opposing the amount of education money that Nevada could receive as part of the federal stimulus package.
• Allegedly making backroom deals to find work for said ex-staffer.
OR, AS OZZY OSBOURNE WOULD CALL THEM, THE CRAZY TRAINS
The UFL announces a Las Vegas team, the Locomotives (a name that’s later shortened to The Locos).
Harvey Fierstein rips Las Vegas during New York talk radio show, calls Luxor a “black tomb.”
THAT NAME IS ALREADY TAKEN ANYWAY
Harry Reid, speaking to attendees at a Nevada State Bank-sponsored conference to discuss the economy, says, “This is not going to be a Great Depression.”
STORIES THAT WILL END UP AS MOVIES OF THE WEEK
• A bored Las Vegas teen pretends to offer a baby on Craigslist (Suggested title: Cradle of Lies on Lifetime).
• Steven and Elaine Wynn divorce (Suggested title: Single White Moguls on SOAPnet).
• Las Vegas Art Museum closes in February (Suggested title: Office Space 2 on A&E).
• Local high-school baseball star Bryce Harper makes the cover of Sports Illustrated (Suggested title: Swing Shot on Spike).
• Las Vegas woman claims she sees an image of Jesus on a toilet seat (Suggested title: He Lifts Me Up on TBN).
THINGS WE’RE TIRED OF COMMENTING ON
• The newly approved $146 million city hall
• The Hangover
ANY CHANCE WE CAN GET THAT POLICY IN PLACE FOR JIM GIBBONS?
Ventriloquist Terry Fator describes the insurance he took out on his most prized possessions: “I insured myself for not being able to use my voice or my hands.”
IT’S NORMALLY AN EASY WORD TO SPELL, BUT NOT IN THIS STATE.
Las Vegas eighth-grader Tussah Heera wins the Nevada State Spelling Bee in March after correctly spelling “monogamous.”
THE MOST ...
... Underappreciated example of art criticsm in 2009:. In October, a painting in UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theater, long believed to be the work of superstar artist Frank Stella, is discovered to be a fake.
... Impressive use of pointless bureaucratic authority: The stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara and Washington is designated by the feds in October as a scenic byway.
... Unsurprising news of the year: An October report claims that Nevada highways cost each motorist $972 in lost time yearly.
... Super!, amazing!, inspiring! empty gesture of the year: The Strip goes dark for 60 minutes on March 28 to help raise awareness of climate change.
THIS SOUNDS LIKE ONE OF THOSE FOUR-HOUR-ERECTION KINDS OF “PROBLEMS”
Arguing for tighter regulation of mobile billboards in neighborhoods, especially those that advertise adult services, Las Vegan Dean Dupalo tells city officials, “They were advertising pornography in front of my house.”
CLOSE YOUR EYES. PICTURE NORM AND CLIFF NAKED. NOW YOU’RE READY TO READ THIS ITEM.
The legendary sex club the Green Door says in December that it’s angling for a reality show to highlight. Says a spokesman,“The Green Door is like a Cheers club.”
FUNNY, THAT’S WHAT NORM SHOUTS WHEN HE WALKS INTO THE GREEN DOOR
In November, we learn that every night, upon arriving home, Rory Reid shouts, “Papa Love is in the house!”
THE BEST IDEA SINCE STORM!
A Las Vegas company starts a pigeon sanctuary in North Las Vegas in April. It’s shut down in September over non-compliance with zoning and health laws.
REASON TO LOOK FORWARD TO 2010
This Tiger Woods stuff has got to roll to a halt in the next 12 months, right?
REASON TO FEAR 2010
On the Chinese calendar, it’s the year of the tiger.