Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I got beat up on the Las Vegas strip

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. I hope so. I don’t want that kind of thrash and trash in MY neighborhood.

The day started out very peaceful. I was in Vegas for Blogworld/New Media Expo. Got up early – after all I’m operating on Central Time, two hours ahead of Pacific time – and surveyed the area for good photos spots. I found a parking ramp was good for different elevated shots and intended to go back the next day. Of course, I wasn’t planning on being in the emergency room when the next day began.

The question needs to be asked at some where here, at what point do you stop protecting your camera? I shielded mine and protected it – but at a personal cost. I usually take one or of the other of my cameras when I go for a hike or a walk. In this case, I opted for my Nikon D300 instead of my little point and shoot Pentax. I wish I hadn’t.

About 8:00, I got to The Strip and walked from the Flamingo Casino area down the strip toward Bally’s. I should have known what I was in for when I got off the monorail. There at the base of the steps from the Monorail elevated platform, on the street was a shabbily dressed fellow trying to find a place to pee.

He found a spot. I walked around him and the puddle he was making.

It was a busy night on The Strip, but then I assume they all are that way. I walked past a street musician playing the old Leadbelly tune, Midnight Special. After I walked past, I thought that would make a good “touristy” shot of the casinos in the background and this guy playing. You can imagine the photo. It’s a common kind of photo.

He and his buddy were quite drunk. I spose you can get away with that on The Strip. Wouldn’t happen here. I guess what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. They may have been more than drunk, I don’t know. But what I do know is that before I could turn and walk away, I was accosted by first one, then another, then a group of men who wanted me to pay them for the photo I took of the musician. I laughed. Gave them a business card and tried to walk way.

For the third time in our brief encounter, one man tried to spit on me, this time, spitting in his hand and slapping me on the side of the face from behind. (That's him on the left in the grey tshirt and tan shorts with the tat on his calf. I remember the tat cuz when I was on the ground and he was kicking me, I stood up and grabbed that leg, upending him.)

I turned and wailed on him and then, all hell broke loose as they jumped me.

I huddled over my camera protecting it as I went down. I remember hearing men saying, “Oh oh. Let’s not go there.” It was a crowded sidewalk, but no one stopped to help.

Women were shrieking and one was saying, “Stay away from my aunt. Don’t hurt my aunt.”

It’s like they thought we were playing hacky sack or something.

Not one person offered to either help me, nor take my camera.

Finally, while on the ground, I got my camera set down on the sidewalk, stood up and did battle. It took about 5 seconds for the cowards to freak out.

By then I had blood running down my face. I picked up my camera and headed in to the nearest casino to try to get help. Stupid me.

“We’re not with the casino,” they answered when I asked them to call the cops.

“You’re with the human race, aren’t you?” I angrily retorted. They didn’t move to call anyone.

“What do I need to do? Scream? Shout?” I threatened. They then called Security.

A couple of uniformed men sauntered over after a while and immediately shuttled me in to a hidden room where gamblers didn’t have to be freaked by the blood. They called an ambulance and there I found the first two professional and down to earth people. Ron and Nick. They got me ready for the trip to the hospital, but we waited for the police. And waited. And waited.

When no cops showed, we went to Sunrise Hospital Medical Center in Vegas. I got my tour of the strip out the back window of the ambulance. There, a P.A. Leila and a nurse Kim showed care and cleaned up my blood and let me talk. I needed to talk. They let me. The four of them, Nick, Ron, Leila and Kim were the best things to happen to me that night.

Hours later, still no cops. Finally, almost 4 hours after the incident, the cops showed up, took my statement and a couple photos.

I got stitched up, and my friend from Blogworld, Julie came via taxi to give me a ride back to the hotel.

I’m still quite angry about the whole deal.

Lesson’s learned:
Las Vegas cops are too busy to respond to a simple assault of a tourist.
Tourists in Vegas are too busy to respond to someone needing their help
What happens in Vegas, I hope stays in Vegas. I don’t want that stuff here.

And oh – next time I won’t let $3,000 worth of camera gear get in the way of letting a bunch of pukes know the fear of my fists.

p.s. To get my mojo back, Julie and I went the next day to the LV Harely shop and Arlen Ness shop. That helped. Finally, on a hike of Mt. Charleston (30 miles outside of Las Vegas) my mojo returned.


  1. I wonder if you realize your camera would have done very well if you had just done what you had to do...without worry of it's "health".

    I have a camera that has survived some rather hard knocks, lots of nasty weather, and over 75k miles worn with the strap over my shoulder and the entire camera exposed to the elements. I've also went down on my bike while wearing my camera... I guess it's a rough and tumble camera...she has always done one heck of a job!

    Don't be afraid to let your camera take it's knocks! I'll bet you will be really surprised at it's ability to withstand that and a whole lot more!

    But I sure am glad your doing well and are not in a hospital or worse...God bless.

  2. Thanks, Chessie.
    I haven't had as good of luck with cameras that take a beating. I'm on my third one in 4 years.

  3. Mike, I only saw you after this whole awful experience happened, but now that I know how you were treated on the Strip, it makes the wounds you endured that much worse.

    I'm glad you were able to regain your mojo...that's often not the case when something like this happens - especially in Vegas. It was wonderful to meet you at Blog World and please let me know if you need any help with Lijit!

  4. Thanks for writing so clearly about such a traumatic experience and hope it provided some catharsis. Also hope in some way it doesn't sour you on a whole town or people who have grown so fearful. Your ND photos evoke such a sense of peace and grace that I am confident you will rebound and synthesize your experience into some excellent photography. Best wishes.

  5. I think a call to the mayors office would be appropriate. I am appalled at everyone's lack of
    concern. They sure don't need that kind of publicity especially on the strip. Good to hear you're ok.

  6. Wow, we just got back from Vegas and personally, they can keep it. I did't take my camera. Heck, I didn't even take many photos with the point and shoot. I was really wishing for a car to drive out of Vegas. Living on the plains my whole life, I find the colors of the desert quite fasinating. Actually so opposed to the colors of the plains... even though we are dry here as well, it's not the same.
    All that aside, it's the last time I allow my daughter to fly into Vegas in the middle of the night by herself...

  7. Las Vegas sound like a good place to stay away from.

    Good blog and good photography info.

  8. You're right, it's not the kind of publicity they need...and now 6 weeks later, still no movement...but oh the medical bills are coming in -- thousands of dollars worth, after insurance.

  9. I think a person's better off riding the open road and experiencing the real America. They can keep Vegas. Sorry that happen to you.