7 of the Coolest Things I Have Ever Seen

These are in no particular order.

1. Grand Canyon Skywalk

The Skywalk is a horseshoe shaped cantilever bridge on the edge of a side canyon in the Grand Canyon West area. It’s owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe. To get there you have to travel about 20 miles on the bumpiest non-paved road I have ever been on.

I’m one of those people who has a fear of heights and had some reservations about walking out onto the bridge. Mainly because the floor is glass. It’s made with four layers of Saint-Gobain Diamant low iron glass.

When I finally got the nerve to open my eyes and look down, it was awesome. Like some people, though, I couldn’t muster the nerve to lay on my stomach and look down.

2. Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir

Le déjeuner des canotiers or "Luncheon of the Boating Party"

Renoir is one of my favorite artists and Luncheon of the Boating Party is one of my favorite paintings. When I went to Washington D.C. for my 50th birthday, I made sure that seeing it was at the top of my list of things to do. It is housed at the Phillips Collection.

I think the thing that surprised me the most about it was how big it was. You can’t really tell how big or small a painting is until you see it in person. When I walked into the room where it was housed I was amazed. I always pictured it as being much smaller.

I had studied the painting, so I knew who all of the people in it were. I tried to film it with my camcorder, but found out that was a big no-no. You could take pictures of it, but weren’t allowed to use flash photography.

Here are two of the best shots I got:

3. The House that Lincoln Died in

After Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater, he was taken across the street to the home of William Peterson. Boarder, Henry Safford, had been standing in the open doorway and gestured  for the doctors to bring the president inside.

When I saw it, aside from the guide, I was the only person in the house. It had very narrow hallways and the rooms were small. The guide stayed up front and let me walk around on my own. I kept waiting to see the ghost of Lincoln. I never did.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

This is the bed that Lincoln died on

 
4. Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is one of the most awe-inspiring places I have ever been to. I saw it for the first time when I was 13, and I’m pretty sure that it was the catalyst that sparked my interest in U.S. Presidents and presidential history.

You have to see it in person to understand how truly magnificent it is. It’s located near Keystone in South Dakota.

Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and later by his son Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot sculptures of the heads of former United States presidents (in order from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres and is 5,725 feet above sea level.

5. Tommy Lee peeing next to me

Tommy Lee was the drummer for Mötley Crüe. He was also married to Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson. One time when I was using the men’s room in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, I looked over and discovered that he was right next to me. I was like, “Hey, that’s Tommy Lee”.

I remember thinking to myself if I should look or not. I glanced down for about 2 seconds. No big deal.

I have also been in the men’s room with Sinbad and Richard Thomas, who played John Boy on The Waltons, but they weren’t peeing next to me.

That day that I glanced down at Tommy Lee’s business was the only time that I have ever broken one of the men’s public restroom rules.

6. Dizzy Gillespie playing his Trumpet

When I was 19, I went to a Jazz convention in Dallas. I was in college at the time, and played vibes in a jazz combo. During one of the recording studio seminars, they needed a vibes player, and I volunteered. Also at the seminar was Jazz Trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie. I was about 10 feet away from him as he recorded his part for the track. I was majorly starstruck.

On a semi-related side note, and NOT one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

Also, when I was 19, I went with 2 friends to see Buddy Rich in concert. We were sitting in the front row. My friend, Jack, started talking during one of the songs. Buddy Rich stopped playing and came down to the front of the stage to chew him out. I shrunk in my seat. You haven’t been chewed out until you’ve been chewed out by Buddy Rich.


7. Bonnie and Clyde Death Car

The famous Bonnie and Clyde car is a 1934 Ford Model 730 Deluxe Sedan. It’s on display
at the Primm Valley Resort and Casino, not too far from the Nevada-California border. The engine is a large eighty-five HP V8, and the transmission is manual 3 speed.

Also on display are:
* Certificate of authenticity for the Ford V8 as Bonnie and Clyde’s death car
* Original letter from Clyde Barrow to Henry Ford praising the merits of the Ford V8
* Clyde Barrow’s death shirt
* Certificate of authenticity for Clyde Barrow’s death shirt

I had originally gone to Primm to ride the Desperado, which, at the time, was listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the tallest roller coaster in the world. It features a 60-degree, 225-foot drop; a 209-foot lift hill; and top speeds around 80 mph.

That first drop is really scary. The first time that I rode it, the lighter that I had in my front pocket flew out and hit some guy in the head that was in the car behind me. All pockets were supposed to be empty for that very reason. Anyway, he was fine.

It was after I had ridden the Desperado that I discovered the Bonnie and Clyde Death Car.

Of course, the are more that 7 things on my ‘coolest things I have ever seen’ list, but these are just a few in my top 50.

My Bizarre Celebrity Encounters

When I was a kid I was fascinated by celebrities. Not so much anymore. From 1991 to 2009, I lived in Las Vegas, and came across my fair share. Some were very famous, and some were not.

Here are a few encounters that were kind of strange:

Tupac Shakur

I saw Tupac when I was at the Jackson Family Honors. It was taped at the MGM Grand Gardens back in either ’93 or ’94. I can’t remember which. Anyway, I was working at the MGM at the time, and had won two $1000 VIP tickets in an employee drawing. Lucky me. The whole event was so bizarre. I took my friend Adam and we were seated in the 5th row next to the aisle. I had the aisle seat.
While we were waiting for the show to start I got up to go to the bathroom. When I turned to walk up the steps I saw Tupac standing on the stairs about 2 feet away from me. I almost knocked him over. Instead on saying ‘excuse me’ and proceeding to the bathroom, I just stood there. He was with four of his friends and they were kind of blocking my way. I didn’t know what to do, so I just said ‘hi’ and sat down.

Julio Iglesias

Haha...You had to walk your ass down 3 flights of stairs.

I got kicked out of an elevator because of Julio. I was working at a now-defunct restaurant called Leonardos in the MGM Grand. Once again, I had to go to the bathroom. I went out the back of the kitchen and headed down the hallway so that I could take the employee elevator down to the breakroom. Just as the elevator doors were opening I heard footsteps running down the hallway, and someone yelling “Sir, Sir…excuse me, Sir”! I was like WTF. I turned and there were about 5 guys in uniform running down the hallway. When they finally arrived at the elevator, I was informed that I could not use it. “I’m sorry sir,” one guy said, “but you will have to take the stairs. We have talent coming through.” The talent was Julio Iglesias. When he saw me, he smiled a shy smile.

OMG people, I have to frickin’ pee. It’s not like I’m going to bust a cap in his ass or anything!

Anyway, I did what any disgruntled MGM employee would do. I walked down the hallway muttering “Bitch” under my breath. Julio took the elevator and I took the stairs.

Tommy Lee

Bitch, quit staring at my business!

It seems like most of my celebrity encounters have indirectly involved the men’s room. My encounter with Tommy Lee was more direct. I was actually IN the men’s room. Once again, it was at the MGM. I was at the urinal. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed some scruffy looking guy peeing next to me. I turned to look. It was Tommy Lee. I was like “OMG, I’m peeing next to Tommy Lee”!
I wanted to resist the urge to get a glimpse of Mr. Winky, but I didn’t. I mean, how often do you get to see a celebrity’s penis in person? So, I looked. I didn’t stare. I just nonchalantly glanced. Much to my surprise – winkywise – I topped Tommy Lee.
BURN!

Larry Manetti

Bitch, go get me a Sprite!

Who the crap is Larry Manetti? You know…that guy who played Rick on Magnum pi. Anyway, I guess he wasn’t getting too many acting gigs, because he was working at the MGM. I’m not sure what his job was, but he wore a name tag just like the rest of us.
One night, when I was slaving my ass off in Leonardos, he came in…and he had his kid with him. Of course they seated him at my table when I was totally in the weeds.
The first thing he said to me was, “My kid’s sick. Bring him a Sprite”. So, I high-tailed it to the bar to get his kid a Sprite. Guess what. We were out of sprite. Damn it. I went back to Larry and told him we were out of Sprite. “My kid’s REALLY sick,” he reiterated. “He really needs a Sprite. See if you can find one somewhere.”

I have more important things to do that try to find a damn Sprite for your kid! Bitch, I’m busy. Why’d you bring your kid in here when he’s sick anyway? Take your ass down to the McDonald’s in the food court.

The only place that I knew to get a Sprite was in the soda machine down in the employee breakroom. So, neglecting my other tables, I took the employee elevator (thank goodness Julio wasn’t in town) down to the breakroom and, using my own money, payed 2 bucks for a frickin’ Sprite.
I gave the kid his sprite and they left. Not only did they leave, but he didn’t pay for the Sprite…or leave a tip.

BITE ME LARRY MANETTI!

Well, I guess that’s about it for now. I will post more celebrity encounters at a later date. Remind me to tell you about the time that Rodney Dangerfield called me a ‘stupid mother f***er’ , and about my dangerously close encounter with spree killer, Andrew Cunanan (the guy who killed Versace).