Las Vegas is already plenty surreal without 50,000 foreign invaders (that's the number I heard) struggling to place drink orders with surly/cynic bartenders who trip over their own English, let alone Swahili, Greek, Mandarin Chinese or the dozens of other unidentifiable tongues we failed to decipher at the event. The result was, at turns, festive, confounding, joyous, even terrifying, but always touching - these people had journey'd from every crook and nanny of the globe to celebrate Americana with genuine American rock and roll musicians and hot rodders. The admiration was mutual, if often misunderstood, but we all just went with it.
In the morning I rendezvoused with Hot Rod Magazine Publisher Jerry Pitt and worker bees Brandan Gillogly and Jesse Kiser at the VLV host Orleans Hotel. We set up shop in the car show parking lot and established another booth in one of the Orleans ballrooms. Jerry was there to sell subscriptions. Hot Rod Deluxe was sponsoring the event and I was its lone representative, since Editor Dave Wallace was stuck on a train in Canada with folk legend Ramblin' Jack Elliot (don't ask). I received a mountain of praise from readers for work that Wallace mostly did on the magazine. It was too weird. I packed up my camera and wandered into the crowd, at least half of which seemed to have bought into media-induced imagery of rock and rod stereotypes. But they were all having a blast, if blissfully ignorant of what they were really buying. Luckily, there were plenty of bona fide rod and custom hardcores there with enough cool cars to keep me engaged. I've already submitted my report to the magazine (Hey Hot Rod: Sorry about crashing your photo site!), so will share photos here that I'm confident they won't run. Online Viva coverage has already saturated bandwidth with the most popular cars, but there was plenty to go around. Check out Hot Rod Deluxe for the really killer stuff. Here's my leftovers... (Copyright 2012 SGE, GBR, SourceInterlink)
Oh yeah, the Viva Las Vegas show. Here's some random photos.
After the event, I had an extra day to kill before flying back home. I spent it in my room, with the SPEED channel cranked to full volume to drown out the still incessant Techno Beat musak that pervaded every square inch of the Palms Hotel. For what it's worth, the tourists from Iowa (or was it Indiana?) seemed to thrive on the stuff.