Keep Looking Up….

“Keep looking up, because that’s where it all is.”

Even though I’m no longer a part of my original Texas home, I still have ties to it.

Family and friends, of course, but I still love cherry ice box cookies from Collin Street Bakery, the infamous “Orange Dip” from Old Mexican Inn, for a while I subscribed to Texas Monthly, my nightly weekend romps through Deep Ellum, and of course on my early morning drives, there was Kidd Kraddick in the Morning.

This last Saturday, Kidd Kraddick died from enlarged heart complications. While the death itself was sudden and unexpected, the reason itself wasn’t, as finding out that he had a big heart wasn’t a surprise to me at all.

I started listening to Kidd in middle school, then high school, then college, then as a young adult. It was his show that broke the initial 9/11 attacks to me as I was driving that morning to work at MumboJumbo. When I moved to California, I found his syndicated show while living in Los Angeles in 2004. That part of my life was a tough spot for me back then, so hearing a familiar voice was comforting at the time. He was a genuinely funny and well-meaning person. Sure, he did goofy pranks and voices with his crew, but he also took sick kids to Walt Disney World every year, and held charity benefit concerts, and helped struggling people out during Christmas when they didn’t have a chance to provide any sort of tangible Christmas for their families. He just did things because it was the right thing to do, and his spirit was both touching and admirable.

He died in New Orleans this last weekend during a golf charity event to raise money for children, so he passed on doing what he loved. I first heard about this via one of my friends on Facebook, and later confirmed the story through another news friend. Despite the two hour time difference between here and Texas, I found myself waking up (before 5 A.M., no less, which is impossible for me) yesterday morning to listen to that first morning show without Kidd there, if anything to provide silent support and comfort to his co-hosts Kellie, Big Al, and the others.

There’s been an unshakable sadness regarding his death. I never met him, but he was so open and personable, you couldn’t help but feel like you knew him. He was a Texas staple, a link to my childhood and young adult years, and that link breaking affected me more than expected. Being that I’m a Humanist, I admired his way to make the world better through his actions. He brought happiness, laughter, and comfort to others simply because he wanted to. It’s what made him happy, and it showed. And the last few days have been a period of reflection and reevaluation for me. You get so used to certain things in your life, and when they’re gone, it can’t help but give you pause. He was one of the few celebrities I knew of that truly used his influence and talent to promote positive change.

I will miss him on my drives back to Texas. His presence was such a major part of my morning commutes anywhere. I hope that his charitable works continue on through his remarkable morning crew and that, when the tears subside, they find a will and way to ensure that “the show must go on”. But for now, I send my sympathies and condolences to his family and radio family, the “friends I never met, but still somehow know”.

Thanks for being such a positive human being, Kidd, and a friend all the same.

David Peter "Kidd Kraddick" Cradick.

David Peter “Kidd Kraddick” Cradick.

I’ve Seen Fire and I’ve Seen Rain….

We don’t have a lot of weather here, but when we do, it’s ridiculous.

The first part of the month was spent with Las Vegas on fire:

The neighborhood view.

The neighborhood view.

Down the street.....

Down the street…..

Mt. Charleston caught on fire due to a freak lightning storm, and as a result, burned an area out of the forest larger than the size of Manhattan. For me, it was a period of orange skies, smoky air, and a memory of San Diego from 2003 and 2007. The ironic part of it all was that one of the reasons I wanted to move from California back in the day was that I was tired of these out of control fires, and wanted to live somewhere where that wouldn’t happen.

….

In any case, the fire has been tamed, and life goes on.

And life has been… slow lately, mostly due to work. I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately for this one contract job. While the work is more technical is subject than I usually go for by personal choice, but the scheduling and pay is nice, and the boss is decent. Not overcritical about anything, and actually *gasp* pays on time without me having to remind him a half dozen times over a period of 2-3 months. It happens a lot in freelance, which can be annoying. If you want me to perform my duties and provide results in a timely manner, then at least keep good on the responsibilities on your end. It’s so nice working for someone who gives as much as he asks for.

Freelancing may seem glamorous, but I never know where my next job is coming from unless I make something happen, or someone looks out for me.

After a solid week and a half of work every day (reminding me well of my days at Midway), I did get a little down time to have fun. One of my old friends came into town as part of a business trip, so I got to hang out for a few.

I knew Josh since my adventures in San Diego. He and his family moved to New Jersey a few years back, and were now in the process of moving to the West Coast again. So while he was in town, we hung out for food, drinks, and gaming.

The old West Coast.

The old West Coast.

It was a really nice visit. I find it funny that I have more regular visitors and guest in Las Vegas than I ever did while living in California. Pretty much no one visited me there from “the old days”, and now I get guests all the time. It’s nice. And Vegas is a fun city to play in.

There was also the matter of “Santa Rampage”, a Burner themed pub crawl that happens around Christmas and “Christmas in July”.

A sampling of the debauchery.

A sampling of the debauchery.

It’s a fun event, watching a couple hundred Santas run up and down Fremont Street, and of course in order to participate, you have to get into the holiday spirit”

Rocking a Star Wars Christmas shirt.

Rocking a Star Wars Christmas shirt.

This was a slightly stranger event, as Vegas’ other weather moment happened: Monsoon season. This is the part where streets flood, casino roofs collapse, and lights go out. Half of Fremont was dark as the Yuletide spirit took over, but the party raged on without a second thought. IT rained for a few days, and while that was appreciated, we also had our fair share of high gust winds and power outages. It’s not easy watching movie or playing games when the power goes out every five minutes.

Now that I have my last big project under control to work with in better time allowances, I should be able to update more regularly. But I am glad to have a moment of “normalcy” mixed in with a steady paycheck these days.

Heat, Water, and Funerals.

It’s been so hot here in Vegas the last week:

The weekly forecast as of June 27.

The weekly forecast as of June 27.

Seriously, I can’t even fathom the heat of this last week. Before anyone starts with “Well duh, it’s the desert”, it actually hit higher temperatures than this, and there were reports of signs catching on fire from the heat. I don’t care how you slice it, that’s beyond rational hot.

Preach it, Brother Butt-Head.

Preach it, Brother Butt-Head.

So I’ve stayed in a lot this last week, working on writing assignments from home, getting some help with some home upgrades. A productive, if reclusive week, playing “vampire” from the elements.

But I did get out some, what with the 4th of July rolling around. Usually, I’ll hit up the parking structure of one of the smaller local casinos that allows for a nice view of Red Rock (which has been burning for the last few days – And I thought these days were over after having moving away from San Diego), the Strip, Fremont Street, and Henderson. But I guess someone forgot to tell the city of Las Vegas that firework displays involve the use of actual fireworks as it was one of the weakest spectacles in recent memory. Seriously, did they tap the discount bin of leftover product from 2007? Colorful bursts were very few and far between, and a lot of them were duds that never exploded. My neighbors put on a better display. Hell, a kid with a package of “bang snaps” would have done a better job.

Proof that a firework actually happened here.

Proof that a firework actually happened here.

As disappointing as that show was, I had a better show to attend the next day. Thanks to the power of MyVegas, one of those Facebook games that everyone usually nags the fool out of you to play, Jen and I were able to go. Finally, one of those Facebook games that actually holds some real-world reward, resulting in the little time-killer being not totally mindless. Bear in mind that I put in some serious weeks on having these games run in the background, but O tickets are never discounted, even for locals, and the chance to earn free tickets was too good to pass up. And these were top-tier seats, which gave me an up close and personal look at everything. And like any of these shows, there’s always a lot to see.

My "O" Face.

My “O” Face.

The show really is a marvel, one of the best, if not the best of the Cirque shows on the Strip. The ever-changing stage and the acrobatics were incredible, and this is the sixth Cirque show that I’ve seen. And candidly, anything with water in it after a week of 110+ degree weather is a welcome sight. Not so much if you have to go to the bathroom. I was cringing a little by the end of the show, torn between the need for relief and the want to see the last few minutes of the show. Art prevailed, however, and my willpower stood its ground (that’s not to say I didn’t bolt during the curtain call, however).

Art imitates Guy.

Art imitates Guy.

The botanical gardens of the Bellagio.

The botanical gardens of the Bellagio.

But the weekend continued with a funeral. Two years ago this month, I met a former showgirl by the name of Kim Krantz, who was one of the original headliners for the Riviera. I was surprised and saddened to learn that she had passed away last month, and the service was this weekend. To be honest, I didn’t know her well, but I found her stories and recollections of a mob run vintage Vegas fascinating, and someone who could give me the gift of such great storytelling…. I wanted to pay my respects to such a legend. The service was nice, peaceful, and I learned a little more about a life that sounded so full of experiences and interest. It’s a part of this city’s history that’s so unique and fascinating, yet never really preserved properly. Saying good-bye to a person like her is losing another vital part of that precious history, and the person herself was charming. So I attended the service, then raised a glass with friends over at Frankie’s to Kim. I only met her once, but did she ever make an impact.

Rest in peace, Kim.