Sunday, June 19, 2016

60 YEARS IN THE MAKING! A TWO-FOLD FATHER'S DAY POST...

Happy 60th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!
Happy Father's Day, Dad!
Because these two met, fell in love, and tied that knot 60 years ago, on June 17th.
ALL because of that,
I AM!

You have my heart, you two!  XOXO  Tony


Monday, May 30, 2016

Saturday, May 28, 2016

"MORE TEQUILAS THAN SEATS" - LA COMIDA MEXICAN RESTAURANT, LAS VEGAS...

This is one of those "damned if you do/damned if you don't" posts - something you want to keep secret, but you also want to make sure it thrives and stays where it is.  La Comida, in downtown Las Vegas, is just that!

Straight from their own mouths:  "La Comida is a Mexican Restaurant with Mexican food and American rock.  A sensory departure from reality with spice, sound, color and the warmth of tequila at the back of your throat.  In the spirit of downtown Las Vegas, this venture takes a familiar favorite and twists it in unexpected and irreverent ways, as Jenna and Michael Morton are known to do, indulging both the simple taco lover and the mole connoisseur".
We stumbled upon this sheerly by happy accident.  Jesus in the bar (seen from the open patio window, as we walked by), blessing the wine and tequila, made us do a double take - and it was all uphill from there.  I've been back three times, since - each a new taste experience...definitely try the mole!  That's a six foot neon skeletal monkey on the front of the building.
Entrance is down "that" alley from the previous post (not that far down the alley - just off the main street), and is charming as all get-out.  Calavera skulls and the Virgin of Guadalupe welcome diners.
With PLENTY of inside (as well as patio) seating, if their tag line is correct, the tequila list must be killer!  Can't say enough about the food in this place - you'll have to take my word for it (and I LOVE my Mexican food), and just go!  Servers are friendly; meals are plated on mismatched vintage dinnerware; margaritas come in mason jars; and the decor does, indeed, ROCK...
even in the bathrooms, where this beautiful angel with the neon halo stands watch.
In town and visiting the downtown area...or LIVING in Vegas and looking for a new spot with fabulous food and unbelievable charm?  Check it out for yourself - 

Friday, May 27, 2016

LEFTOVER LOVE FROM THE "LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL FESTIVAL"...

The fourth annual Life is Beautiful Festival (THE three day MUSIC, culinary, arts, and learning experience extraordinaire - a modern day Woodstock meets Electric Daisy Carnival, of sorts) will be held in downtown Las Vegas. in September.  As part of the revitalization of this area (and certainly as part of this enormous festival), international artists have been brought in the past three years, to install and paint amazing artworks.  Left in place after the yearly festival is done, they have most certainly added amazing ambiance to the area.  I'll try to be short on words in this post - enjoy the murals.
 ENTIRELY air-bushed (or at least as close as two art teacher friends and I could determine).
 
"Same"...
I do have to interject here.  This is in an alley next to the restaurant we ate at.  We walked as far as we could until we ran into transients sleeping, and decided it was a good turning around point.  Plus, we couldn't be sure if the shoes over the power lines were a real indicator of shady drug dealings, or just another "art installation" to go along with all of this (which would be my guess, with the great eating and drinking establishments around it), but we turned around anyway.  This fenced off area is the back of a local bar.  The paintings were beautiful - again, all airbrushed.
And less than six months later, the paranoid blonde has been replaced with Sherlock and a Unicorn!  The bums and shoes were still there, however.
"Interactive" graffiti'd wall, past the alleyway...
That has morphed, itself, in the past months!
Further down the same street - I love this enormous "bird".  The rocket ship mosaic was set into the wall, and no bigger than my hand.
How koi!  I think it's a gold fish, actually.
I believe this is the abandoned Vegas casino/motel that is turned into an "art gallery" of sorts, during the festival.
Another of my favorites - this sits across the street from the Praying Mantis - Meerkats, on a BUS, made entirely from cast off junk (shaded by a lone palm tree casting that weird shadow).
And next to what looks to be the "Last Chance" for those "kats" to beat it out of town, at this bus stop!
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign...that's my own camera lens in the center of a tiny mirror attached to a street light.

Thankful for anything that helps to clean up a desperately run-down area, this is most certainly the new hot spot in Vegas.  There are many, MANY more murals than these as you drive around this area - all you have to do is look.  I'm sure many of these will be covered (if the alley is any indication) for this year's festival - excited to see what September brings, anew!  Tomorrow:  a great restaurant tip while you're there, looking...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

SHOPPING, SPIRITS, AND BOWTIE LESSONS AT THE DOWNTOWN CONTAINER PARK...

Sitting behind the giant praying mantis from yesterday's post, you're gonna' find one of the most eclectic and fun shopping spots in "new" downtown Las Vegas - 39 unique, one-of-a-kind boutique shops and galleries, along with restaurants, bars, an interactive playground, and a stage area for evening entertainment...ALL HOUSED IN REPURPOSED SHIPPING CONTAINERS!
Tiny shops - just the perfect size, really - in this cleverly designed, triple-decker complex.  Shopping (with pretty great prices, actually) and eating around the perimeter, playtime fun in the center.
Retail hours are from 11:00 am to 9:00pm most days, with the restaurant and bar hours extending to 11:00 pm and 1:00 am, weekends - 21 and older after 9:00 pm. - for more info, click here:
The signage on the establishments housed here brought a smile on the days we visited - ranging from beautiful retro neon...
to bright and melodic...
and straightforward!
Made ya' use your noggin...
and some humorous double entendres!
Best laughs of the day, clever beef jerky shop owners!
They've got SCADS of creative fun with a little weirdness here (socks, candy from your past, AND "hipster" vibes, all in one spot) - have an hour or two?  GO!
We stopped for no llamas that day, but across the street is THIS...
BEST doggie day care center I think I've ever seen!
A play park for your canine children that puts the one for human children, inside the Container Park, to shame - both in size (a HUGE, beautiful, grass park) and it's furry occupants!  These pooches were having the absolute time of their lives, while their people worked.

Yup - the downtown area is the up and coming hotspot of Vegas...tomorrow (I can't believe I've stayed on top of this!) we're going walkabout among the street artworks there - stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

INVASION OF THE 40 FOOT MANTIS...

THIS!  THIS is what sets behind that Love Locket from yesterday, guarding the entrance to the Downtown Container Park on Fremont Street East, in Las Vegas.  Quite possibly my most favorite thing in town at the moment.  A 150:1 scale exact replica of a female praying mantis by aerospace engineer turned artist, Kirk Jellum.
Photos were taken on three separate occasions over the past 9 months, give or take (the gloomy skies on the first visit made for a great "impending doom" backdrop).  I have always wanted to drive the Weinermobile, but I would KILL to drive THIS!  Set atop a military looking Humvee (one of the old, BIG ones), this thing actually drives - considered a "Street-Legal Kinetic Mobile Fire-Art Vehicle" - yes, it's been to the Burning Man Festival!
This was constructed by Jellum as a first wedding anniversary gift for his wife - my husband is SO lame!
When fully extended, the Mantis measures 40' tall X 30' wide.
Every night, at sundown (weather permitting), the Mantis is awakened by a "Call to the Mantis" Drum Circle Celebration (so, see - you don't even have to go as far as the desert of Burning Man to enjoy some of the "special uniqueness" of that whole event).
This gal burns approximately 50 gallons of liquid propane each night, with flaming antennae and color changing eyes.  In other words, she's LIT (as may be some of the drum circle participants).  Who needs Colorado or Oregon?  Mind-blowing without the edibles, and a lot cheaper, too - like FREE, man!  Plus, no paranoia or munchies afterwards.  Win-win!
Jellum and a team of 20 built the Mantis in 2010 - 500 hours of design work, and over 3,000 hours of labor are invested in this creature.  She also has a built-in 4,000 watt surround sound system, can speak 20 different languages (I just gathered info off the sign in front - don't ask me how a bug speaks 20 different languages), and takes a team of four trained/licensed professionals to operate (I can only assume they all have special "Kinetic Mobile Fire-Art Vehicle Operators Licenses"...my driver's license is SO lame!
See for yourself - she sets behind the Love Locket, in front of the Downtown Container Park (more about that tomorrow), and next to the Vortex Dome on the corner of Fremont and Seventh Streets (or 707 Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, to be exact).  I love her!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A LOCK ON LOVE - FREMONT STREET EAST on "TRAVEL TUESDAY"...

While the weather is still enjoyable in Las Vegas, I thought I'd share a whole week (that's right, an entire WEEK of posts - all photos were taken on two separate "walkabouts" with friends - one overcast day, one sunny and mild) of THE newly renovated "hot spot" in town, and some of the fun things it has to offer for those who might think that Vegas is strictly casinos (or for those of you who live here, and are usually holed up inside due to oppressive temps).

Fremont Street East used to be the "wrong side of the tracks" - you NEVER went further than the main area of the noisy downtown casinos...those were "seedy" enough, but you NEVER ventured past them.  All that has changed over the last five years or so.  More about the entire area this week, but today we're just feelin' the love.
Sitting on the corner of Fremont and Seventh, in front of the Downtown Container Park, is the "Love Locket".  Erected by artist Nova May, in 2013, as part of the Life is Beautiful Festival art installations - a bare metal piece that has gathered lock upon lock/remembrance upon remembrance over the few years it's been in existence - filling both sides entirely.
January of this year found the sculpture vandalized, with one entire side being removed one night.  Down but not out, the side was replaced and a fundraiser to fill the new side was held in February, with proceeds from one hundred $10.00 locks sold, being donated to the American Heart Association.
Got a lock and a sentimental/personal reason of your own?  This is your place!  Try not to wait too long, because hanging metal locks on a metal sculpture, covered with MORE metal, in the middle of 120 degree heat can be quite tricky - do it now, while the weather is pleasant.
And there's SO much more to this area to love and explore.  Back tomorrow with what sets BEHIND this lock - might just be my favorite thing in Vegas, at the moment!  Happy Tuesday.