drunk girls (that James Murphy was singing about on what sadly turned out to be the last LCD Soundsystem record) that I avoid like the plague in their Hollywood club haunts as they try to get their pictures taken with Ashton Kutcher or Kobe Bryant?
I try to explain to them that I love Vegas precisely for the reasons they hate it. It represents American excess spiraling out of control, and it's completely fascinating. A photographer could make a Diane Arbus-like reputation on by taking a series of poignant black and whites of the defeated gamblers still trying to find some luck at the tables at 5 in the morning. I try to tell them that there is a beautiful honesty to the proud fakery of Vegas; by putting of The Eiffel Tower, Venitian Canals and an Egyptian pyramid (made of black glass with a light bright enough to be visible from space, no less) all in the same sight-line, the designers of the city's grandest resorts have done more than try to copy some of the world's great landmarks; they've actually boiled American culture down to it's consumerist and shallow core.
But that's just what I tell them when I'm feeling pretentious; the truth is I really like gambling and having the ability to drink an open container as I walk down the street. I also kind of like Cirque Du Soleil; don't tell my buddy who thought that Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion was too poppy and that meant the band was "over."
All that said, my friends (judgemental and close-minded as they may be despite their advocacy of fair trade coffee and PETA) are right; there are, indeed, many douchebags in Las Vegas that one would be advised to avoid like the plague.
I'm not going to go into a rant against these bros in this entry; you know the type I'm talking about, and they cannot wait for Spring Break and the official launch of pool party season so they can show off their Jersey Shore like abs that go with their awesome frosted tips. What I am going to talk about, in a semi-regular (read: when I feel like writing them) series of posts, is actual cool places to visit in Vegas in order to avoid that crowd of bros who fist bump (and call each other bro) without any sense of irony.
And my first Vegas cool spot is a doozy: the one and only Double Down Saloon.
A genuine rock 'n' roll bar, The Double Down is so cool that they opened a second location in New York; that's right, the center of the cool universe imported a popular Vegas watering hole instead of the other way around.
The crowd here is a great mix of locals, indie-rock loving hipsters and punk rockers, with a killer juke-box that will satisfy all tastes (and doesn't include any Bieber, thank you very much). The drinks are strong and well-priced, and they invented the world famous Ass Juice Shot (a brown concoction with ingredients that change daily; don't ask what's in it, just drink it) and a Bacon Marini (yeah, you read that right, an effing Bacon Martini).
With colorfully psychedelic murals covering the walls, this is the type of place that you can start up a game of pool with roadies for Sonic Youth, catch the bassist from Pavement playing pinball or find Bob Pollard knocking back beers like they're water and telling war stories from his fabled career (I'm taking artistic license here; I didn't make it to the epic Matador at 21 indie rock blowout weekend in Vegas last year, and I'll regret it for the rest of my days).
Like everywhere else in Vegas, you can gamble while you get drunk, smoke a pack of Marlboros (which you only do when you're drunk, I know) and listen to great tunes on the jukebox on the saloon's Video Poker, Blackjack, Keno and Slot Machines... and you can lose money amongst your people.
If you're looking to make out with a hot rockabilly chick, then The Double Down is far and away your best bet. This is my favorite bar in Sin City, and it's among my favorite bars in the world... which is saying a lot, because I pride myself on the fact that I've been drunk in many cities across this great nation.